With 2016 right around the corner, you probably have started brainstorming some new goals and resolutions to accomplish. Maybe you are thinking of ways to stay better connected with your friends and family, or how you can get back in shape after adding on a few pounds during the holidays. One resolution you might not be considering is how you can get more sleep. With so many different studies on sleep and how important it is to living a happy and healthy lifestyle, this year make your New Year’s resolution to get more sleep.

Not only does sleep make you feel better and ready for your day, but adequate sleep is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit you heart, mind, and body. Let’s take a look at just a few ways sleep is important to your health and why getting more sleep needs to be your main focus for 2016.

 

Sleep Improves Brain Function

Do you ever feel like things just aren’t clicking inside your head? It’s probably because you’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep helps your brain function properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is getting ready for the next day. It actually starts forming new pathways that will help you learn and remember information.

Studies have also shown that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Whether you’re learning math, how to play the guitar, or memorizing facts, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills.

Sleep Improves Your Memory

Your brain is still working hard even while you sleep. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake through a process called consolidation. “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.” In other words, if you’re trying to learn something new whether it’s playing that guitar or a new golf swing you’ll likely learn it faster and perform better after sleeping.

Sleep Spurs Creativity

In addition to consolidating memories, your brain also appears to reorganize and restructure them. This may result in more creativity as well. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College discovered that people seem to have strengthened emotional components of a memory during sleep. The results mean it may help you spur your creative process.

Sleep Is Important To Your Physical Health

Lot’s of people make the resolution to lose weight or workout more. But sleep plays an important role in managing weight and overall physical health. Did you know that sleep is also involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels? And it has actually been found that ongoing sleep deficiency can lead to an increased risk of kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Ongoing sleep deficiency can also increases the risk of obesity. In an eye-opening study of teenagers, researchers found that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese increased. But sleep deficiency doesn’t only increases the risk of obesity in teens, it can also mean a higher risk for other age groups as well.

Sleep Curbs Your Appetite

Not only does a lack of sleep increase the risk of obesity, but proper sleep affects your appetite. Sleep has been found to help maintain a healthy balance of the 2 hormones that make you feel hungry, Ghrelin, or full, Leptin. When you don’t get enough sleep, your levels of Ghrelin goes up and your levels of Leptin goes down. Getting a great night of sleep can actually make you feel less hungry.

Sleep Lowers Stress

Stress and sleep have an interesting two-way relationship. You have probably noticed how difficult it can be to sleep when you’re stressed. But high stress levels can not only make sleeping more difficult, they can also lead to sleep disorders.

At the same time, getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce the effects of stress. When you don’t get enough sleep, levels of stress hormones become elevated.

Sleep Improves Your Mood

Sleep plays an important role in controlling your emotions. Although proper sleep won’t guarantee happiness, you have probably noticed that when you’re exhausted, you’re more likely to be cranky. That’s not all, “Not getting enough sleep affects your emotional regulation,” says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, a professor of psychology at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia “When you’re overtired, you’re more likely to snap at your boss, or burst into tears, or start laughing uncontrollably.”

 

Don’t sacrifice sleep in 2016, and make your New Year’s a resolution to get more sleep. For most people, getting enough sleep is only half of the battle. Actually falling asleep and staying asleep is a challenge in and of itself. With some simple changes to your daily routine, you can improve the quality of your sleep and greatly improve your overall health.

Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. You should also get regular exercise, and avoid certain foods that can inhibit sleep such as coffee, spicy foods, and chocolate before bedtime. And finally, find ways to stay comfortable all night long so your sleep isn’t interrupted from being either too hot or too cold.

“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep,” says Dr Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better.”

It’s important to note that sleep specialist recommend between seven and a half hours to nine hours of sleep every night for you to function at your best. So when you’re making your New Year’s resolution, remember how sleep impacts all aspects of your life! A few simple changes to your daily routine can result in a better, happier, and healthier you.

 

Sleep Well,

William