Beauty Sleep Isn’t Such a Misnomer

Busy lifestyles encourage people to find new and ingenious ways to squeeze one more minute out of their day.  It might seem like you can shave a minute here and a minute there to lengthen your day, but 24 hours is all you get, no matter what.

One particularly popular, but ineffective, way to try to get more done is by sleeping less.  Next to eating fast food, sleep deprivation may be the worst habit for your health.  Not only can lack of sleep make you grumpy, like a toddler who gets woken up early from a nap, it can affect your IQ, your perception of reality, your cardiac health, your metabolism, and your looks.  Sounds like a few good reasons for an early bedtime.

Image courtesy of graur codrin/

Image courtesy of graur codrin/

According to , sleep deprivation is the root cause of many auto and work-related accidents.  Brain fog reduces reaction time and impairs attention and alertness.

Cramming for a test or presentation the night before might seem like a good idea, but, in reality, concentration and problem-solving skills take a hike.  Retention tanks.  Reasoning fails.  All in all, your ability to make a good grade or impression is severely curtailed.

Insomnia raises the risk of heart attacks, blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. It is one of the major symptoms of depression, starting a vicious cycle of sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression.  The less you sleep, the less you’re able to sleep.

And if all that isn’t enough to make you take a nap, chronic lack of sleep leads to weight gain and aging.  Yikes!  You mean a little extra sleep might erase those dark circles and bags under my eyes without a face lift?  Yep.

Also, sleepiness often causes the dreaded munchies.  You know the feeling of grazing to find something that will satisfy a vaguely nagging feeling of wanting something salty.  No sweet.  No crunchy.  No chocolate.  When in doubt, always choose chocolate.

If you’re caught in the habit of staying up late to do one more thing, you need to break the habit.  It might not be easy, but you will be surprised what a difference it will begin to make in how you feel and how much more you really accomplish.  When you have energy and a good attitude, anything is possible.

First, stop the caffeine.  Caffeine is a stimulant.  When I was younger, it didn’t affect my sleep much, or so I thought.  Whether you go to sleep or not, caffeine can still affect the quality of sleep, which is vitally important to overcoming insomnia.

Second, wind down the day earlier.  If you stumble in the house every night just as it’s time to get ready for bed, you probably will have a hard time relaxing and falling asleep.  Cut something from the schedule to get everyone home early.

Start a bedtime routine.  A warm bath with lavender essential oil has been proven to calm a fussy baby.  It might soothe your cranky inner child, too.  Going to bed at the same time each night also helps the body adjust to a good schedule.

Arrange your bedroom to encourage sleep.  If there is a bright streetlight outside your window, use blackout shades.  The darker the room, the better your body will relax.  If your neighbors like to practice their garage band until midnight, it goes without saying that earplugs are a good investment.  White noise, such as a fan or wave machine, helps many people block out irritating sounds, too.

Physical activity helps the body relieve stress, but it’s usually not advised to do too much too close to your bedtime.  Right after work may be great, but take time to unwind again before going to bed.

A good night’s sleep affects so many things, from your health to your quality of life.  Make sure you’re getting enough to improve both.


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