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A Healthy Habit You Can Dream About: Get More Sleep

Lack of sleep can drain your energy, affect your mood, contribute to gain weight, and increase your risk for a variety of health problems. A chronic lack of REM sleep can affect your memory loss and decrease brain function. Sleep is also necessary for a healthy immune system, not enough of it and you will be more susceptible to illnesses. Commit to making good quality sleep a priority, and you could start reaping many healthy rewards:

Think Faster. Sleep is the key to better brain function and will help improve your memory and perform complicated tasks.

Better Weight Management. Sleeping more can help keep your metabolism functioning at the appropriate level, plus you'll have the energy you need to stay active.

Feel Happier. One of the best benefits of more sleep is a better mood. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, impatience, and depression.

If you need some help figuring out ways to get in more ZZZ's at night, here are five tips to get you dreaming more tonight:

  1. Schedule your Sleep. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day will keep your body in a routine and help you reach REM sleep faster.
  2. Time your Meals. Eating a big meal just before bedtime can make it harder for you to achieve deep sleep. Eat earlier in the evening (at least two hours before bed) for optimum sleep and rejuvenation.
  3. Buy a Better Bed. If you're waking up with aches or stiffness, your mattress may be to blame. Take a trip to the mattress store and you might be surprised how much more comfortable a new mattress can be.
  4. Avoid Long Naps. Napping during the day is fine if you really feel tired, but keep it short to avoid interrupting your night time routine. Naps as short as 10 minutes can help you feel refreshed – but avoid sleeping longer than 30 minutes during the day.
  5. Turn Off the Lights. To sleep better, make sure your bedroom totally dark. This will allow your body to relax better. Try not to read at night on backlight devices like tablets and readers, and turn your alarm clock the other way so the light won't disturb you.
 

Reference: Healthy Sleep website - A resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and WGBH Educational Foundation

 

This article first appeared in the February 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.