The one luxury we seem to give up the most but really can’t afford to, is sleep. This is in fact the one area of my wellness lifestyle I struggle with the most. I have dealt with insomnia off and on since I was a teenager, not to mention one of my jobs requires me to get up super early a couple days a week. There are nights where I will just be watching the clock, tossing and turning. Then the alarm goes off and I groggily stumble out of bed.

We all know that sleep is important, we need it, and most of us wish we had more. However, it seems to be a badge of honor for some, declaring they can run on only 5 hours of sleep. Well that may be true for that day but eventually lack of sleep catches up on us. I decided to do some digging to find out what was missing on those nights I have less than stellar rest. Here are some benefits I’ve uncovered that now have me aiming to get more shut eye in the future.

Sleep makes you more alert. When we sleep, our brain processes what has happened during the day. Deep sleep is important for your brain to make memories and link connections. Better quality sleep helps us remember and process better. This probably explains why I must write everything down or it doesn’t get done. Lack of quality sleep is affecting my memory!

Adequate sleep regularly helps us maintain or lose weight. Lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones (ghrelin and leptin) that affect appetite. These two hormones are disrupted by lack of sleep. When they are disrupted, our eating patterns and habits suffer and we can find ourselves overeating or reaching more for the unhealthy snacks.

When we are sleeping, this is the time our body is repairing itself. It is repairing all the damage done by stress. Cells produce more protein when we sleep, this protein then helps form the building blocks of the cells that will repair the damage while we sleep. It’s all a circular activity we are preventing when we don’t get adequate rest. And speaking of stress….

Sleep helps us reduce stress. Our body goes into stress when we don’t get enough sleep. I can become moody or cranky if I’m tired and not taking care of myself properly. This is usually a sign that I need to slow down or relax. Stress can also lead to other health risks which we can avoid by sleeping more. Too much stress in our life can make it harder to sleep though, which keeps this vicious cycle going. It’s important to learn some relaxation techniques that help us attain better quality rest such as deep breathing or even journaling about our stressful events right before bed. This action helps us let them go so we don’t focus on them throughout the night.

Since I want us all to learn how to relax and sleep better, next week I’m discussing meditation which helps with calming down for sleep. In the meantime, think about how you can up your sleeping game and aim for those 7-8 hrs of quality rest this week.

Wellness Wednesday,