Having a hard time falling asleep each night? If so, you’re not alone. Sleep has been proven to be instrumental to your overall health so not getting enough shuteye can cause major health issues in the long run. Here’s more information on why good quality sleep is essential and what you can do to get better sleep to improve your overall quality of life.

Why Sleep Is So Important

Sleep is the time where your mind and body can repair itself from the daily stresses. Your physical health will deteriorate if you do not get enough sleep at night. Although every person’s needs may vary, people typically need at least six to eight hours every night. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep it can impact your body in various ways, including your:

Heart and organs: The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports that your body repairs the heart and blood vessels when you are sleeping. It also heals damaged organ tissues during this time. Your body may experience unnecessary stress during the day if it does not have enough time to heal at night. Lack of sleep can also increase your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Hormones and weight: Sleep deficiency can also cause you to gain weight since it can interfere with your body’s ability to monitor and produce the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that causes you to feel hungry while leptin is the hormone that signals to your brain that you are full and should stop eating.

If you don’t get enough sleep, it’s harder for your body to regulate your hormones associated with hunger, which can make it harder for your body to feel full after a meal, which can lead to eventual weight gain. Sleep deficiency can also elevate your blood sugar levels and increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Immune system: Lack of sleep can also interfere with your body’s immune system, making it harder for your body to fight different infections and germs if it isn’t getting enough sleep to stay healthy.

Quality Matters

It’s not just the amount of hours you get each night but how well you sleep. Luckily, there are many things you can do that may help you sleep better at night.

Eat healthy foods. Here are some foods you can add to your grocery list that may help you sleep better at night:

  • Protein – Studies reveal protein can help you fall asleep faster.
  • Healthy fats – Foods with healthy fats like eggs, avocado and coconut oil can help your body develop sleep hormones.
  • Honey and tea – Certain teas like chamomile, passionflower, and valerian teas have high levels of antioxidants and can make it easier to fall asleep. Honey is filled with tryptophan, which can calm you down.
  • Avoid sugar and carbohydrates – Sugary foods and carbohydrates can make your blood sugar level spike at night.

Create a bedtime routine. It’s easier for your body to fall asleep if you follow a regular bedtime routine or schedule, much like forming a habit. It can also help your circadian rhythm stay consistent and help your hormones function better.

Sleep-proof your room. If you constantly wake up at night due to loud noises or light, get earplugs and remove anything with screens (like laptops) from your bedroom. Removing artificial light and keeping the temperature warm can help create an environment conductive to sleep.

If that does not work, try using a white noise machine to drown out loud noises. You can also listen to a soundtrack of running water and other soothing, natural sounds to help you relax and unwind.

Try testing out a few options to see what works for you. Once you find a routine that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, you’ll be on your way to better health!

Sources:

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

http://www.mensfitness.com/weight-loss/burn-fat-fast/eat-more-protein-sleep-better

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20232959,00.html

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems-list/the-link-between-lack-sleep-and-type-2-diabetes