It’s free. It feels wonderful. And there is an endless supply of it. Yet, many of us simply aren’t cashing in on the incredible benefits inherent in a good night’s sleep.
Babies need it. Teenagers crave it. Parents lack it. It seems the older we get, the less time we put aside for the 8 hours a day our body needs to recuperate and gear up for daylight activities. Unfortunately, by ignoring the amount of time you sleep, it could mean that you’re not only waking up tired, you’re missing a key contributor to overall health and wellbeing.
Getting enough sleep benefits our bodies in more ways than one. Did you ever notice than when you’re tired, run down or feeling stressed, you’re more likely to get sick? That’s because our bodies, and more importantly, our immune systems, need sleep in order to keep us healthy.
In addition to fending off the common cold, sleep plays a vital role in the prevention of major disease. The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute suggests that sleep is, for example, greatly involved in the healing and repairing of heart and blood vessels. Experts have proved linkages between those who sleep less, and those who suffer serious health problems like heart disease, as well as kidney disease and obesity.
If you are sick, sleep can actually act as a natural pain relief, and supplement for over-the-counter medication. According to Web MD, getting enough sleep can help lessen the pain of those who suffer from chronic pain, as well as those who succumb slight injuries or discomfort.
Finally, if you’re an athlete, a pregnant woman, or generally a little on the clumsy side, sleep should be your best friend. Numerous studies suggest that those with less sleep have a lower pain threshold than those who gain those few extra hours rest. Gearing up for a big game — or big push? Be sure to bank a few extra hours sleep. You’re going to need them.
There are a couple reasons why sleeping more can actually contribute to healthy weight loss; the first is exercise. Whether you’re gearing up for a morning jog, or an evening yoga class, getting enough sleep is integral if you want to have enough energy to work out the next day. If you’re overtired, you’re far less likely to drag yourself to the gym or pick up a pair of weights. Set a goal and then, set your alarm. Try to be in bed, lights out, 8 hours from when that alarm is due to go off. Are you really getting enough sleep?
The second is diet. People who don’t get enough sleep experience a drop in leptin, a hormone that normally tells your body that you’ve had enough to eat. Without enough leptin, your body craves high-calorie foods, meaning that you’re both tired and hungry, and much more likely to order-in or take-out from the greasy diner down the street.
A recent article by TIME magazine looked at the connection between what you eat, and how you sleep. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania showed that normal sleepers (those who get between 7-8 hours of sleep a night) have the healthiest diets of all sleepers, consuming fewer calories than the short sleepers (those who get between 5-6 hours a night), with high food variety (considered a marker for good health). Thankfully, while a lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy eating habits, the reverse is also true.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep once your head hits your pillow, consider tweaking your diet. Eating healthy foods before bedtime can calm your nervous system and trigger a sleep-inducing hormonal response.
According to Reader’s Digest, foods like Almonds, that are rich in magnesium, are great for encouraging a good night’s sleep. Other sleep-friendly foods include those that are high in calcium, like kale or spinach. Calcium helps in the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us all find peaceful rest at the end of each day.
Fitness Magazine offers a host of ideas on what to eat and what not to eat for a good night’s sleep, putting specific emphasis on consuming foods that contain the following vitamins and minerals: B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, and copper.
Health tip: Stock up on a handful of organic, cold-pressed Living juice and drink one after dinner but before bed! Our Green Vitality Juice, contains vitamin B1, B2 and B6, iron, zinc, copper and calcium, perfect for ensuring that you get the peaceful night’s sleep you deserve!