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The importance of sleep

The occasional night of insomnia won’t wreck your health, but chronic sleep deprivation not only makes you feel lousy, it can put your health and well-being at risk. Here’s why you need to get more sleep.

woman sleeping on white bed

Sleep can help relieve pain

According to sleep medicine specialist Dr. Michael Nolledo, FAASM, director at the Institute for Sleep Medicine at Deborah Heart & Lung Center in Browns Mills, New Jersey, waking up several times during the night can increase the likelihood you’ll experience aches and pains the next day. He recommends not viewing sleep as a luxury and, instead, rely on it as a natural pain reliever. “Sleep increases pain tolerance,” the sleep expert says. “And it can supplement the effect of pain medications.”

Sleep makes you happier

Positive psychology expert Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, warns that lack of sleep can sour your perspective on life. “We found that if you sleep seven to eight hours a night after memorizing a list of positive and negative words, you will remember most of the positive and negative words the next day, but if you are sleep deprived, you will remember most of the negative words. Your reality seems to become more negative when you aren’t getting enough sleep.”

Sleep aids in appetite control

How many tired afternoons have you downed a high-calorie latte and scone in hopes of boosting your energy? Lack of sleep depletes hormones in your body that help suppress hunger, which can deceive you into thinking you are hungry when you aren’t. Food isn’t the energy fix you need. Adequate sleep helps you stay naturally energized and also helps control your appetite, says Dr. Nolledo. “Sleep can help you maintain better hormonal balance, which helps you choose to eat healthier foods,” he adds.

Sleep boosts your immunity

When you run yourself ragged, you run the risk of impairing your immune system. Consider sleep one of the easiest and best ways to boost your immunity against illnesses ranging from the common cold to chronic disease, such as cancer. If you are short on sleep and always seem to be sick, give yourself a 30-day challenge to sleep for eight hours every night and chances are you’ll see an improvement in your health.

Sleep is key to stress management

Waking up exhausted is no way to face the day. According to Dr. Nolledo, sleep helps decrease stress and anxiety and allows you to better handle things that cause you stress. Sleep improves your decision-making skills, which are essential in keeping your cool and in finding solutions. He explains, “When well-rested, you are more capable of choosing the optimal course of action among different alternatives, and when it comes to work, family, financial and health issues, you can’t afford to make the wrong move.”

Sleep energizes your sex drive

Unless you and your mate are into love-making anywhere and everywhere in the house, spending fewer hours in bed means a smaller window of opportunity to have sex. Worse — if you and your mate are curling up with the laptop or iPad instead of each other, you’re letting technology take over the bed. Dr. David Volpi, the founder of New York and California’s premier Eos Sleep Centers, recommends reclaiming the bedroom for sex and sleep only. “It’s been scientifically proven that the light from TV and computer screens affects melatonin production and throws off circadian rhythms,” says the sleep expert. This can lead to chronic tiredness and low libido. If you want to re-energize your sex drive, it’s simple: Get enough sleep.

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