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Whoever said, “Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep,” got it right in more ways than one. Take a good look around the office, classroom, or even a quick glance at the driver in a passing car and it’s obvious that most of us aren’t sleeping enough. The latest medical research makes it clear that the consequences of insufficient sleep are poor physical and mental health.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. 70 million Americans are estimated to have a sleep disorder, and an estimated 40 percent of adults experience insomnia at least once in the course of a year. Then there are those of us who simply aren’t getting quality rest or aren’t sleeping enough.
5 Ways Quality Sleep Improves Overall Health
1. Sleeping Helps You Lose Weight
In a recent study at the University of Chicago, researchers discovered that a lack of sleep can disrupt fat metabolism. The data suggests that if Americans just got better nocturnal rest, the obesity epidemic would decline.
2. Proper Sleep Can Stave Off Type 2 Diabetes
After three nights of sleeping four hours or less, levels of fatty acids in the blood are elevated. Too much fatty acid in the bloodstream weakens the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. This resistance heightens the risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. Eases Symptoms of Depression
It’s long been understood that depression and insufficient sleep are linked. While science hasn’t quite proven which came first, lack of sleep or depression, treating both conditions usually improves the other.
4. Increases Energy and Improves Concentration
Being tired during the day affects just about every mental and physical task we do on a daily basis, from driving, to problem solving at work or school. Sleeping the right amount, not too little and not too much, has the benefit of balancing both our physical and mental capacities.
5. Meditate Your Way to Restful Sleep
A University of California and USC study has shown that mindful meditation techniques, focusing one’s attention on the present moment without judgment and without reacting to thoughts, is a better tool for sleeping than previously thought. Mindful meditation during daylight hours also reduces stress, fatigue and symptoms of depression.
For those struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs, sleep can be especially problematic. While alcohol can make a person tired, the actual rest during alcohol-induced sleep isn’t productive. The same is true for those abusing prescription painkillers. Depressants can cause a person to get poor sleep for too many hours, and sleeping too much can be as bad as sleeping too little.
Individuals suffering from addiction to stimulants are often on the other end of the sleep spectrum. Someone with a hardcore addiction to methamphetamine or cocaine, for example, might go days without sleep. Even too much caffeine can disrupt normal sleeping patterns.
Finally, those recovering from alcohol and drug dependency should pay attention to their sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep on a regular basis will aid in a keeping a positive life perspective, which will likely prolong sobriety. The National Sleep Foundation recently released recommended sleep guidelines for all ages and lifestyle.
Don’t forget, “Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep.”