Sleep your way to good health!

If you’re like many Americans, you’re in constant motion. Does this typical day sound familiar?

Drive the kids to school, go to work, pick up groceries on the way home, make sure your daughter gets to soccer practice on time and your son does his homework. Cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry, respond to unanswered work emails, call your Mom to say hi out of sheer guilt because it’s been days, weeks even, and run a vacuum before collapsing into a chair to drink a much awaited glass of wine. And your day isn’t over yet. Your son blasts into your bedroom at 9:30pm in a panic because his band concert is tomorrow evening and his white shirt needs ironing. Your daughter comes in upset because there’s no Kombucha in the fridge – OMG!! The President of the PTA calls to ask you to volunteer for the fundraiser next Tuesday and “oh, can you bake a batch of brownies for the meeting?” Your husband comes home cranky from work and you still have to finish that report that your boss asked you to do as you were walking out of the office today – with a deadline, of course, of tomorrow at 8am. I know what you’re thinking – Linda just nailed my life and/or you mean I’m not alone?!?

We live in a prevailing culture of striving and achieving and an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude. Men are actually the worst culprits of this and almost boast about their lack of sleep. Walk into any office across the country and you’ll probably hear Joe say, “I don’t require much sleep, as a matter of fact, I only got 4 hours last night.” We’re walking around like zombies and our bodies are in constant fight or flight mode. Our lackadaisical attitude toward sleep is just plain wrong, and this ‘constant on the go’ lifestyle is NOT sustainable!

Over the course of the next few days I’m going to outline some of the health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep. Sure, sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes far beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and lifespan.

“Sleep used to be ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning,” says David Rapoport, M.D., director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program. Not anymore.

Here’s just one of the many health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep.

Improved Memory

Your mind is surprisingly busy while you sleep. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation). “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.” In other words if you’re trying to learn something new — whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing — you’ll perform better after sleeping. And, getting a good night’s sleep has been scientifically proven to improve your memory. This article from Science Daily is fascinating and a quick read. Study on how Sleep Improves Memory

Over the course of the next few days, I’ll do my best to convince you that sleep is THE BEST healthy gift you can give yourself…but in the meantime – get some rest!

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