Sleeping enough is just one of those things we know we should do but don’t really know why.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours a night for people ages 18-64, but chances are most of us are not getting anywhere near the recommended amount.  With today’s busy work schedules, long commute times, and increasing commitments, it can be difficult for the average person to get the recommended amount of sleep.  Read: difficult, but not impossible.  Read on to find out why you should prioritize getting enough zzz’s…
1.    It keeps your heart healthy.  In honor of February being American Heart Month, we first have to mention the importance of enough sleep in regards to a healthy heart; lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
2.    It improves your memory.  Learning and memory are described in three different functions: acquisition (taking in new information into the brain), consolidation (the processing of the information and formation of memories), and recall (the ability to access the information after it is stored).  Researchersthink that various sleep stages are responsible – or at least involved – in the consolidation of memories.  Sleep deprivation may also have implications for learning impairment.
3.    It may help you lose weight.  Recent researchshows that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese.  It’s been shown that a lack of sleep may cause a hormonal imbalance in the body that impacts appetite regulating hormones (ghrelin and leptin).  This causes increased appetite.  Pair that with decreased movement from lack of energy and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain!
4.    It reduces stress.  Much like a good massage, getting enough sleep reduces stress.  Conversely, a lack of sleep will place your body into a state of stress.  This increases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol (which has other unpleasant side effects), and may even elevate blood pressure.
Convinced?  We sure are!  While getting enough sleep can be a tough thing to plan around, it’s crucial that you do so for your long-term health.  There are strategies you can implement in order to balance all your responsibilities and still get enough sleep.  Where there’s a will there’s a way!  So, go on and hit that snooze button (just kidding, probably don’t do that).  ?