sleep and health. Copyright Body and Mind by Muna

How sleep affects health

You get your exercise in (as often as you can) and you eat well (most of the time), but you’re still not seeing the results you’re hoping for. While there could be a plethora of reasons for this, the first thing you should do is take a look at how much sleep you’re getting. In fact, did you know that along with exercise and diet, sleep is considered one of the three pillars of good health? It’s true! Which makes it that much more important to get in those zzz’s.

You’ve heard the recommendations are to get between seven and nine hours of slumber each night, but most adults aren’t hitting that quota. Sure, we can function decently with a night or two below that, but even it’s going to put a real damper on your health. Once your sleep quantity and/or quality goes down, you’re in for some negative side effects. This includes increased food intake, impaired judgement, a decreased ability to make good decisions, difficulty with memory and learning new things, and an overall grumpy attitude.

On top of all of that, lacking sleep can seriously impact your health. People who get less than the recommended amount of sleep are at an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and being overweight or obese. Blood pressure and heart rate spike, and the body produces more stress hormones. Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed! Add it up, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Tips for better sleep

So what can you do to fend off the negative side effects of poor sleep? Rest up! You should be shooting for at least seven hours of sleep each night. If that seems unrealistic for you at this point in your life, try adding 10-15 minutes at a time until you reach the sleep recommendations.

Here are some other things you can try to get better quality sleep tonight.

  • Dark room. The less light in your bedroom, the better. If you need to, add blackout curtains to the windows to immerse yourself in the darkness.
  • Cool it down. The cooler your room, the better suited it is for sleep. You want your room to be somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees F.
  • sleep and health. Copyright Body and Mind by MunaSlight noise. Ideally, you want to sleep in a quiet room, but for some people traffic, roommates or neighbors might be louder than you’d like. In those instances, consider white noise. A fan, heater or quiet soothing music could be all you need.
  • Unplug. Turn off your electronics (TV, computer, cell phone, tablet, etc.) one hour before bedtime.
  • Meditate. Sit in silence for a few minutes before your try falling asleep to help calm your body and mind down from a hectic day.
  • Deep breathing. Along with meditation, practice a deep breathing routine to slow your breath down for slumber.

If you’re looking for some bedtime yoga, check out this YouTube video. Become a member of Body and Mind by Muna for access to even more videos and exclusive materials.

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