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Sleep: An Important Part of Your Wellness Program - Don't take it for Granted

Mar 30, 2014

By Megan Vick, Intent.com

When we think of wellness or getting into shape we almost automatically think of diet and exercise. You get healthy by being active. However, it is equally important to make sure you spend enough time doing the opposite. That’s right – sleep is an essential part of keeping your body healthy.

An adult needs an average of six to eight hours of sleep per night. Sleep allows your mind and body to recharge after a long day. During a deep sleep your mind is able to process information that was accrued during the day and transfers it from short-term to long-term memory banks.

Lack of sleep is one of the most detrimental things to your health. It weakens the immune system, reflexes and our ability to focus.

“When deprived of sleep we’re more susceptible to every type of illness. Because sleep regulates hormone levels, lack of sleep can cause disturbances in metabolism that lead to obesity and weight gain,” says Deepak Chopra in his Science of Sleep video. “A person deprived of sleep and a person intoxicated with high levels of alcohol can display the same lack of neuromuscular coordination and lack of attention and focus.”

When we’re stressed our bodies aren't able to reach the level of deep sleep needed to process memories or regulate itself in preparation for the next day. A continuous lack of sleep has serious repercussions on our ability to function in everyday life. Try these simple tips to make sure you’re getting enough rest.

 

  1. 1. Meditate: Meditation is a great way to help you relax. It helps decompress, lowers your heart rate and puts you in a more relaxed state before crawling into bed. Take 20 minutes before you plan to sleep to sit silent and focus on your breath.


  1. 2. Turn your screens off: Press the off button on your smart phone, tablet and computer an hour before bed. These devices keep your brain stimulated so using them up until bedtime will take your brain longer to slow down for a restful sleep. According to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the artificial light that emanates from these devices affects the brains ability to produce melatonin, which regulates the body’s sleep cycle.


  1. 3. Yoga: There are various yoga routines you can run through before bed. These positions are designed to help you feel looser and more relaxed so your body is ready for rest. You can try this routine from Sports Club/LA partner Tara Stiles.


  1. 4. Sleep in the dark: Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Light and sound keep your brain active, so even if you think you can sleep through it, your mind is still processing what’s happening around you and can’t slow down enough to fall into a deep sleep.


  1. 5. Avoid late night snacks: Food’s primary job is to fuel your body with energy. When you eat before bed you’re stoking your body at a time when you need to be slowing down. Sleep lowers your metabolism so your body isn’t burning the calories you would while awake, which can lead to weight gain.