Here's to your heart, weight and mind: 9 Reasons to get your sleep, and plenty of it

Getting a fair share of shuteye is more important than a day of feeling tired, wearing dark circles and grabbing an extra cup of coffee.

Researchers say getting a good night’s sleep benefits your heart, body weight, your mind and supports a healthy lifestyle.

Think about your last few nights of sleep – how did you feel throughout the day on a full rest compared to a shorter snooze?

Getting adequate deep sleep, according to Health Magazine, makes you feel better while boosting your body and mind for the long haul, too.

“Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning," David Rapoport, MD, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program, told Health Magazine. The publication reports several benefits of sufficient sleep:

Memory maintenance
Your mind wanders while you sleep, allowing for development of thoughts and learning.

"If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice," Rapoport said. "But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better."

Researchers suggest sleep can enhance mental performance, including learning a new procedure at work or even playing your favorite sport.

Lengthened lifespan
Sleep impacts your lifespan, meaning a steady amount of rest is best for living longer. Too little sleep can lead to a shorter lifespan.

A 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, according to Health Magazine, found more deaths in females who got less that five hours or more than six and a half each night.

“If you sleep better, you can certainly live better,” Raymonde Jean, MD, of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City said. “It’s pretty clear."

Doused inflammation
A good night’s sleep can put out an inflammation fire, as the condition is linked to disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and early aging.

A C-reactive protein is often associated with a risk of heart disease, a recent study found. When you get less than six hours of sleep per night, your blood carries higher levels of the proteins than people who regularly sleep more.

Colorful creativity
A solid night of sleep can send your creativity up a notch or two. Similar to strengthening your memory, sleep enables your brain to reorganize and restructure ideas. So, you could see your creative mind flow more productively.

Make sure to get to bed early enough for your ideal sleep stretch, and each day you might spend more time thinking outside the box as sleep spurs the creative process, researchers from Harvard University and Boston College said.

A study from Sanford University found college football players who slept at least 10 hours nightly over eight weeks ran quicker sprints, had more stamina and refrained from fatigue.

Regardless if you're an athlete or not, your body's physical performance level relies on a healthy amount of sleep. When you're sluggish, you'll likely be slower - on and off the field.

Academic excellence
If you want an A+ on your next exam, or an awesome review at work, be sure to incorporate plenty of solid snoozing. A study found children who suffered from sleeplessness and snoring had problems paying attention and learning in school.

"If you’re trying to meet a deadline, you’re willing to sacrifice sleep," Dr. Rapoport said. "But it’s severe and reoccurring sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning."

Weight watching
A full night of sleep can do wonders for your diet. A study from the University of Chicago found that participants were hungrier when they got little sleep, and those who were well rested burned more fat. Plus, people who were deprived of sleep lost muscle mass.

"Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain," Dr. Rapoport said. "When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite."

Save the drama for your mama
Stress and sleep go hand in hand, Health Magazine said, meaning sleep could mean less drama in your days. When you get plenty of sleep, handling stress is easier. Doses of drama  - along with sabotaged sleep - both hit your cardiovascular health hard.

"Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure," Dr. Jean said. "It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease."

Wellness behind the wheel
Tiredness was the leading cause of deadly single car crashes in which drivers ran off the road, according to a 2009 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The risk was greater than driving under the influence, the study showed.

"Sleepiness is grossly underrated as a problem by most people, but the cost to society is enormous," Dr. Rapoport says. "Sleeplessness

affects reaction time and decision making."

A simple checklist for ensuring your slumber includes: avoid caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, spend a few minutes relaxing in a quiet, dim setting before closing your eyes, stay away from last minute to-do lists, and refrain from television, conversations and even reading that could spice any anxiety.





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