The Importance of Sleep
Adequate sleep is one of the most important aspects of good health. Sleep affects every part of your life, from your attitude to your physical well-being. If you’re having difficulty with sleep, whether from poor habits or a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, it can affect every aspect of your life, from interpersonal relationships to your job performance.
Sleep affects your mental health in many ways. When you don’t get adequate sleep, you can suffer changes in mood, including irritability, mood swings, grumpiness, and memory loss. You might notice that your productivity in work or school is somewhat lowered due to an inability to concentrate.
Sleep is what enables your mind to clear away all the debris of the previous day so you can start fresh. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t have a chance to clean up and remove the unnecessary connections it has made throughout the day. Without those precious hours of shuteye, your brain can’t compartmentalize the memories you’ve created, leading to forgetfulness. It also doesn’t clear away the collections of hormones and chemicals the body forms throughout the day, further leading to imbalances that cause mood changes and issues with concentration.
They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. Failure to get adequate sleep can also lead to a number of physical problems. Aside from the more obvious outer physical issues like weight gain and early wrinkling, sleep deprivation can cause serious internal issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Sleep allows the body to process and digest your daily food intake. When you don’t get adequate sleep, your food is not processed properly, causing it to be stored as fats rather than broken down into its nutrients and distributed through your body. The resulting weight gain can cause lipids to collect in places like your heart, causing cardiovascular disorders. High levels of fats and sugars also lead to diabetic issues and hypertension due to the increased pressure required to pump blood throughout your body.
What’s Affecting Your Sleep?
Even if you think you’re getting enough sleep at night, a number of factors can be affecting the quality of your sleep without your knowledge. Sleep disorders are a serious issue that can dramatically affect your quality of life if they’re left untreated. Common sleep disorders include issues like insomnia, or difficulty getting to sleep; sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing periodically; bruxism, or teeth grinding, leading to jaw pain and disrupted sleep patterns; and sleepwalking. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing issues with a sleep disorder.
Whether or not your sleep is being interrupted, there are certain habits you can practice to make getting to sleep and staying asleep a little easier. Avoid heavy foods, alcohol, and caffeine before bed, invest in a quality mattress, and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, for starters. Put away technology in favor of a book or meditation to relax your brain, and keep a sleep diary to track sleep habits that may be adversely affecting you.
Sleep is a crucial part of your daily health routine. If you think your sleep patterns are being disturbed, it’s important to seek treatment right away, so you can get back to getting a good night’s rest.
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