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Basic Lifestyle Guideline: Sleep

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Sleep should be one of your biggest considerations. Sleep draws the line between challenging and supporting the system. Being able to rest, recover and repeat work the next day is critical to your success.

While quantity of hours is a good place to start, quality is also important. Studies show that obesity rates in adults who sleep less than 6 hours a night are up to 40% higher than those that get 6 or more hours regularly.

You’re sleeping 8 hours per night… AWESOME - but if you are waking up 13 times during those 8 hours even perfect compliance with nutrition and training will not get you the results you were working for.

Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is a vital part of the foundation for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime.

Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater risk of death.

Sleep deficiency can interfere with work, school, driving, and social functioning. You might have trouble learning, focusing, and reacting. Also, you might find it hard to judge other people's emotions and reactions. Sleep deficiency also can make you feel frustrated, cranky, or worried in social situations.

Some of the benefits of consistent, quality sleep are:

  • Helps reduce stress - If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it can react by producing an elevated level of stress hormones, which are a natural result of today’s faster paced lifestyles. Deep and regular sleep can help prevent this.

  • Improve memory - Ever noticed that when you’re really tired it’s harder to remember things? Basically this is your brain telling you that it’s not getting enough sleep. When you sleep well, your body may be resting but your brain is busy organizing and storing memories. So getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

  • Lower your blood pressure - Higher blood pressure increases your chances of heart attacks and strokes, but getting plenty of restful sleep encourages a constant state of relaxation that can help reduce blood pressure and generally keep it under control.

  • Helps your body fight back - While you’re sleeping your body is producing extra protein molecules that can strengthen your ability to fight infection. So if you’re feeling a bit run down and you don’t want it to turn into a full-blown cold, go to bed early and get lots of rest.

  • Helps you maintain your weight - Unfortunately, sleep won’t directly make you lose weight, but it can help you keep it under control by regulating the hormones that affect your appetite and reducing your cravings for high calorie foods.

  • Puts you in a better mood - Lack of sleep can make us more agitated, so we’re more likely to snap at the boss or be grumpy with a loved one, neither of which is a good thing.

    The better you sleep the better your ability to stay, calm, controlled and reasonable.

  • Could reduces your chance of diabetes - Some research studies have shown that not getting enough sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by affecting how your body processes glucose. It’s not conclusive by any means, but it’s yet another indication of how important the benefits of sleep can be.

  • Helps keep your heart healthy - A regular sleep pattern can help to lower the levels of stress and inflammation to your cardiovascular system, which in turn can reduce your chances of a stroke or heart condition.

  • Can be a painkiller - If you’re suffering pain from a recent injury like a sprained ankle, getting plenty of sleep can actually make you hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and a lower pain threshold. Basically the more sleep you get the less pain you might be in.

  • Can help make you smarter - Along with a great night’s sleep, grabbing a quick nap in the daytime can contribute towards making your brain more effective and productive. You won’t necessarily be answering all the questions on University Challenge, but you may well feel sharper, more attentive and focused throughout the day.

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