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In our busy modern era, it’s easy to cast aside the value of a good night’s rest in favor of burning the midnight oil and powering through with that extra double shot of espresso or whatever else that helps keep those eyes open. But, skimping on the Zs comes at a price. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of sleeping, some of which may surprise you:
Sleep Plays a Critical Role in Memory and Learning
According to Harvard’s Sleep Medicine Division, sleep is key in helping us perform our best mentally. REM sleep, in particular, helps the brain retain and process memory, specifically when it comes to remembering how to do a particular task. The lighter parts of the sleep cycle are important for motor functions, and visual learning is connected to both REM and the slow-wave stage of sleep. Plus, if you’re not entirely sold, just think about how much harder everything is when you’re sleep deprived. Enough said.
Sleep Prevents a Number of Negative Health Problems
Sleep helps fight inflammation in the body, which might sound like just a buzzword used to sell trendy health foods, but it’s really important. Chronic inflammation can cause things like premature aging, diabetes, and arthritis, as well as heart attack and stroke.
Sleep Helps You Lose Weight
Not only does getting more sleep remove the temptation to eat at all hours, but it may help users make healthier decisions and improve metabolism. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, dieters who were sleep deprived produced higher levels of a hormone known as ghrelin, which triggers a hunger response, and slows down the metabolism.
Sleep Helps You Be More Productive
While many of us have deadlines or other obligations, calling it a night early can help us become more productive in the long run. Back to the idea that sleep allows our brains to process information more easily, sleep in turn, helps us perform our jobs more efficiently. Meaning, you may be saving time by getting more sleep.
Quick Tips for Falling Asleep
- Look Toward Sleep Apps — Try using an app that offers music or sound waves that relax the mind, or something with a sleep timer, like the Alarm Clock for Me app, which plays soothing tunes as you power down for bed.
- Establish a Routine — Going to bed at the same time each night, and getting up at the same time in the morning conditions your body into getting a predictable amount of sleep. You’ll start feeling tired around bedtime each night.
- Exercise — In addition to a sleep routine, establishing a regular workout routine can help wear you out before bed. Just be sure to avoid exercise within 4 hours of bedtime, as you may find it hard to sleep.
- White Noise — There are countless white noise apps in the Google Play store, as well as a number of devices aimed at drowning out external sounds.
It’s undeniable that sleep offers so many great benefits to all of us, it’s too bad it’s often treated as an inconvenience. It’s time we start carving out some space in the day to get our requisite 7-9 hours, our health, our job and our waistline could all depend on it.