8 Reasons to Get More Sleep

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Like many mums, since having children I have been conditioned to wake up at the slightest sound.  I also find it hard to get to sleep as I analyse, worry and plan as soon as my head hits the pillow.  And despite being extremely tired, I was going to bed later and getting up earlier in order to fit in everything I needed (or wanted!) to do.  As a result, I looked like s**t and felt even worse. Apart from looking ten years older, and spending the day thinking about when I could sleep again, I was cranky, irrational and losing all zest for life.  Mojo level - zero!  But quality and quantity of sleep is not something that can be ignored indefinitely, and I have recently started to make sleep a top priority.  The result is a happier, more vibrant me - just ask my family!

Research reveals that adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle that goes way beyond boosting your mood or banishing under-eye bags.

Here are 8 reasons why we need to get adequate sleep - at least 7 hours a night:

  1. Keeps Our Heart Healthy: Lack of sleep has been associated with increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are among the greater risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
  1. Reduces Stress: When our body is lacking sleep, it enters a state of stress. This increases blood pressure and causes the production of stress hormones.  Stress hormones then make it harder for us to fall asleep, while the higher blood pressure, as mentioned above, increases the risks of heart attack and strokes.  By getting a good night's sleep we can break the circle of stress and counteract its effects on the body
  1. Reduces Chronic Inflammation: The increase in stress hormones, caused by the sleeping disorders, has been associated with chronic inflammation disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer, heart-related conditions, or diabetes. Chronic inflammation is also thought to be one of the causes of aging.
  1. Makes Us More Active: A good night's sleep will make us feel more active and alert the following day. Energy levels after a good sleep are higher, your mental awareness is more acute and you are more likely to smile more :) A restful sleep session not only feels great, but it increases our chances for another good night's sleep next time we go to bed.
  1. Boosts Memory: While the body is resting, our brain is busy processing our day, and making connections between events, feelings, experiences and memories. Sleeping time is the most important time for our brain to shape memories and make the connections, which can make it easier for us to retrieve those memories in the future.
  1. Can Help Us Lose Weight: Researchers have found that people who sleep for less than 7 hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese.  Lack of sleep affects the levels of ghrelin and leptin, the hormones responsible for regulating our appetite.  So if you want to stay in shape, get more sleep.
  1. Reduces Risk of Depression: Among the various biochemical substances affected by sleep, serotonin is perhaps the most famous one.  High levels create a feeling of happiness, and low levels can make us vulnerable to depression.  Making sure we get 7-9 hours sleep a night will help us regulate serotonin levels, thus feeling happier and more productive.
  1. Helps Our Body Replenish: Sleep is the time for our body to repair any damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures.  During sleep, cells produce more protein which is used in repairing damaged cells.  Muscle injuries and other trauma also heal faster during sleep.
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