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5 Ways a Good Night's Sleep Equates to Better Health and Performance

Are you getting enough good quality sleep every night? If not, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, one in three adults are sleeping less than seven hours per night. Research shows that seven or more hours of sleep per night equates to better health and performance, and plays a key role in the ability to learn, solve problems and maintain a healthy mental outlook.

Dr. Mike Dow, Psy.D., Ph.D. and New York Times bestselling author of “Heal Your Drained Brain” has five reasons for prioritizing sleep–along with simple tips for getting better sleep each night.

Sleeping at Least 7 Hours Per Night Reduces Your Risk of Disease and strengthens your immune system.

If you think six hours of sleep is sufficient, think again. Research has linked sleeping less than seven hours with heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. In fact, a good night’s sleep has many benefits, and a hormone known as melatonin has an important role to play.

Most people think of melatonin as your natural sleep hormone, and it is, but it’s also an antioxidant–which is another health benefit of getting adequate sleep. Your brain’s pineal gland produces and secretes melatonin in response to light signaled by the sun rise and sunset. However, in the modern world, the predominantly blue light of your phone, TVs and tablets suppress melatonin production affecting your sleep.

Sleep also strengthens your immune system. Research shows it’s harder for your body to ward off viruses when you don’t get enough sleep. One study exposed people to a rhinovirus after monitoring their sleep patterns. The subjects who slept less than seven hours were three times more likely to develop symptoms of the common cold.

To fight back against the melatonin deficit that makes it hard to fall asleep, turn off electronics and the TV one hour before bedtime. Write down or calendar any events you have so that these thoughts don’t pop into your head just as you’re about to fall asleep. 20-30 minutes before bedtime, add Natrol Melatonin or fast dissolve tablets to your nightly routine.

Quality sleep can regulate your hunger hormones and prevent unnecessary weight gain.

If circadian rhythms are disturbed, the levels of one hormone that makes you feel full after eating go down as another hormone that makes you feel hungry goes up. Additionally, blood sugar goes up as sleep duration goes down. This creates a vicious cycle. You don’t sleep enough, and you’re more likely to crave donuts and bagels for breakfast. And because you’re not well rested, that donut or bagel will make your blood sugar spike higher than had you been rested.

Ditch the late-night alcohol and sugary desserts. While alcohol and blood-sugar-spiking foods may make you sleepy and doze off, they have been shown to prevent deep, good quality sleep. Sip herbal tea or snack on berries, a great low-glycemic dessert. This will help you to get better sleep tonight–which will help you make better food choices tomorrow.

Poor Sleep Makes You Unproductive–And Lack of Productivity Negatively Affects Sleep.

Your brain and sleep cycle have an interdependent relationship and depend on each other in order to function. Your daytime productivity is just as important as your relaxing bedtime routine. This is because sleep is nature’s response to help us recover from a long day. Even dreams are a way for the brain to make sense of the day’s events. The more you challenge your brain during the day, the easier your brain naturally drifts into sweet slumber at night.

What’s more, a study found that poor sleep could actually shrink your hippocampus, the part of the brain central to learning and memory. During the study, adults had their brains scanned at the outset, followed by a second scan three and a half years later. The results showed that there was a rapid decline in volume in poor sleepers’ hippocampal volume. Unlike other parts of the brain, the hippocampus is particularly sensitive to environmental factors. Lack of sleep or chronic stress can shrink this part of the brain. The good news: it’s also the primary site of neurogenesis–the birth of new brain cells. Thus, you can also have the ability to grow this part of the brain–simply by using it.

When You Don’t Sleep Enough, You Think You’re Fine…Even When You’re Anything But.

A study from an Ivy League university found that people who slept about six hours a night for multiple nights in a row had the same performance deficits as people who had been totally deprived of sleep for two nights. Even more alarming: when subjects were asked to report their subjective experience of sleepiness throughout the study, they were largely unaware of their deficits.

If you have trouble falling asleep, consider trying Natrol Melatonin Fast Disolve. And if you're the type who wakes up to early, try Natrol extended-release tablets.The slower release of melatonin can help you stay asleep longer so you don’t inadvertently wake up too early.

Bad Sleep Leads to Anxiety, and Being Anxious Prevents Restful Sleep.

If you’re the type of person who is becoming overly anxious because you’ve now learned just how vital sleep is, look at it through this lens: all this information will motivate you to improve your sleep. Whether it’s adding natural melatonin or adjusting your bedtime, you now have the tools to improve your sleep. When your head hits the pillow tonight, just remember that people with sleep problems tend to overestimate the time it takes to fall asleep. It’s perfectly normal to take up to 30 minutes to fall asleep.

Turn your alarm clock and phone around or face down so that you can’t see them during the night. Looking at the clock when you’re sleeping increases sleep anxiety. Also, pad your sleep time with at least 30 minutes to doze off. If your goal is to sleep eight hours, that means you should be in bed with the lights out 8-1/2 hours before your wake up time. You’ll probably find this simple strategy will help you to fall asleep easily.

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