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9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep, Starting Tonight

9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep, Starting Tonight

Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed; the blue light that emanates from cell phones, TVs, and computers can interfere with restful sleep.

Getting enough rest at night is essential for just about every single process that occurs in the body, specifically:

1) Sleep keeps your brain sharp. Sleep is critical for normal functioning of the brain, says research from Oxford University. According to the Oxford sleep scientists, sleep serves as the "brain's housekeeper", helping to restore and repair the brain. Poor sleep over time, they found, causes brain shrinkage—and problems with reasoning, planning, memory, and problem solving.

2) Sleep makes you happier. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, making you tenser, more nervous, and more irritable[ii].

3) Sleep keeps you at a healthy weight. There are numerous studies done on the effects of the lack of sleep on weight. One study found that losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can cause you to gain weight and affect both insulin resistance and your metabolism (slowing it down)[iii].

4) Sleep helps you live longer. Researchers at University of California, San Diego, found that women who got five hours or less of sleep a night didn't live as long as women who got, on average, 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night[iv]. Keep in mind that every body is different; what may work for some [e.g. 5 hours a night] won't work for others.

5) Sleep helps curb inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to everything from heart disease to premature aging.

Studies show that lack of sleep—specifically, six or fewer hours a night—triggers high blood levels of inflammatory proteins.

6) Sleep helps you perform better physically. A Stanford University study found that college basketball players who slept at least 10 hours a night for five to seven weeks ran faster, improved shooting accuracy, and improved overall game performance[v].

7) Sleep reduces stress. Get enough sleep and whatever is triggering your anxiety just won't seem that insurmountable anymore. Sleeping gives the body a chance to relax and rest without being overwhelmed by worry.

8) Sleep boosts the immune system. Getting adequate amounts of sleep keeps the immune system functioning properly. In one study, published in the journal Sleep, those people who averaged between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night were sick less often[vi].

9) Sleep keeps you safe. Not getting enough sleep, and the drowsiness that occurs as a result, has been found to impair driving performance even more than alcohol[vii]. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car off-the-road crashes[viii]. If you're tired, don't get behind the wheel—or pull over when it's safe to do so, so you can take a break.

Wishing you many nights of restful, quality sleep!

Dr. Debbie

RESOURCES:

"Poor Quality Sleep May Be Linked to a Shrinking Brain," Tara Haelle, HealthDay, September 3, 2014; http://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/misc-aging-news-10/poor-quality-sleep-may-be-linked-to-shrinking-brain-691359.html

[ii] "Fatigue and Mood Correlates of Sleep Length in Three Age-Social Groups: School Children, Students, and Employees," H. Oginska and J. Pokorski, Chronobiology International, 2006, 26(6), 1317-28; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17190716

[iii] "Losing 30 Minutes of Sleep Per Day May Promote Weight Gain and Adversely Affect Blood Sugar Control,"Newswise.com, March 5, 2015; http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/630723/?sc=mwhn

[iv] "Women's Study Finds Longevity Means Getting Just Enough Sleep," Scott LaFee, UC San Diego News Center, September 30, 2010; http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/archive/newsrel/health/09-30sleep.asp

[v] "Snooze You Win? It's True for Achieving Hoop Dreams, Says Study," Stanford Medicine News Center, June 30, 2011; http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2011/07/snooze-you-win-its-true-for-achieving-hoop-dreams-says-study.html

[vi] " Healthy Sleep Duration Linked to Less Sick Time From Work," ScienceDaily, September 3, 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140903163633.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_health+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Health+News%29

[vii] "White Paper: Consequences of Drowsy Driving," National Sleep Foundation; http://sleepfoundation.org/white-paper-consequences-drowsy-driving

[viii] "Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/drowsy_driving1/Drowsy.html