Healthy Sleep

For Your Health: 5 Benefits of Healthy Sleep
Sleep isn't a luxury; it's a necessary process that allows our bodies to repair, rejuvenate and recharge for the busy day ahead. If you've been missing out on sleep, you may also be missing out on these numerous total-body benefits:

  1. Mental focus and brain power: This may be a "no-brainer," but sleep patterns are closely related to mental performance. Getting adequate sleep can support healthy focus and concentration, as well as a normal reaction time. Sleep may also play a role in memory formation.
  2. Energy: One of the best ways to support healthy energy levels is to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Restful sleep recharges your whole body and may help conserve precious energy needed for the next day's tasks.
  3. Less stress: There's a reason you feel so frazzled when you're deprived of a good night's rest. Sleep helps you recover from the physical and mental stresses of the day and may actually lower your levels of certain hormones associated with stress, such as cortisol.
  4. Healthy eating habits: Think back to that mid-morning muffin or the 3 o'clock visit to the soda machine. Could your poor food choices actually be caused by a lack of sleep? A wacky sleep schedule can not only make you sluggish, it can also cause the release of stress hormones that trigger overeating or cravings for junk food. Getting enough rest can keep your body energized and may make it simpler to stick to healthier eating habits.
  5. Physical recovery: It doesn't matter whether you're a couch potato or a gym rat - your body still needs adequate sleep to recover, repair and rebuild. From brain cells to muscle tissue, every part of your body benefits from the recovery process during sleep.  However, sleep may be especially important for those looking to build muscle, as this process requires a great deal of rest and recovery.
Most adults require at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to reap the benefits described above. But if you're one of the millions of people whose sleeping habits are less than stellar, what can you do to ensure you're getting enough?

First, cut back on several common culprits, including caffeine, sugar and alcohol, that can throw your sleep schedule off track. Next, make sure to establish a strict bedtime routine - and stick to it.

If you're still counting sheep, try sipping some soothing herbal tea, such as valerian root or chamomile, or consider taking a supplement that supports normal relaxation.