Few things feel better than a good night’s sleep. Quality time with the sandman puts us in a better mood and sharpens our brains. It also gives us the energy and the ability to run our busy lives — from exercising to keeping up with our kids to excelling at work.
Turns out that getting enough sleep can supercharge your health too. People who sleep well are less likely to become obese and are more resistant to colds and upper respiratory infections. Getting enough sleep may even buffer you from heart disease.
There’s a lot more going on when you’re asleep than meets the eye. Body cells are stocking up on substances they need to function the next day. Chemical messengers in the brain are being produced. Information gathered during the previous day are being registered in the brain as memories. “Sleep is an active process during which the brain and body rejuvenate themselves,” says Nancy Foldvary, DO, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic and author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders. “Virtually every organ system in the body is adversely affected by sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. Optimizing sleep is important therefore for overall health.”
The exact amount of sleep you need is determined by your DNA. Most of us require 7 ½ to 8 ½ hours of shut-eye each night, Foldvary says. Of course it isn’t always easy to get the rest you need. Never-ending to-do lists, teens who keep you up all night worrying and everyday stressors can make it hard for you to sleep well. The key to achieving a good night’s rest lies in eating the right foods, calming the mind and preparing your surroundings. Done daily, these habits can ensure a lifetime of good sleep and better health!