Every day is a great day to start improving your life, so why not start today?! With September being Self-Improvement Month, we thought it would be a good idea to look at how self improvement affects the body and more importantly how sleep ties into self improvement! It’s time for a positive change in your life that will make you happier and give you a better quality of life!

Self improvement is the quest to make ourselves better in every aspect of life. Self improvement is all on you! Your success, personal goals and overall health begins and ends with you. Concentrating on improving one area will make it easier to improve overall. Lets focus on sleep! One of the best changes you can make in your life is your sleeping habits.

First let’s talk about what happens to the body when you are sleep deprived. Did you know that more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis? I know I fall into that category a few too many nights a week. Balancing work, healthy eating, exercise and proper sleep can be exhausting but is worth all the effort and here is why. Little sleep dulls the activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, which is the locus of decision-making and impulse control, will make your brain make bad decisions because you do not have the mental clarity. It is almost a little like being drunk. Sleep deprivation also leads to deficits in cognitive function, whether it’s reaction time, decision-making, or memory. Poor sleep has been linked to greater risk of depression and anxiety, increased risk of heart disease and cancer, impaired memory, reduced immune system functioning, weight gain, and greater likelihood of accidents.

Now that that’s out of way, let’s talk about the positives! Here’s the run down on sleep. Sleep is important for pretty much every one of your physical systems. Sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. It makes you feel better, benefits your heart, weight, mind, and so much more. Sleep is not downtime, sleep actually is fuel for your body.

Here are some reasons why sleep is so important to us!

Sleep boosts your mental health. It’s is the mind’s best friend. Everything stems off of your brain, from your happiness to how well you age. Many mental issues stem from lack of or problems with sleeping. To increase your mental with sleep, there is a couple changes that will help. Lifestyle changes you can make is limiting caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Alcohol depresses the nervous system but wears off quickly which is why you tend to wake up more often throughout the night after a night of drinking. Nicotine is a stimulant that speeds up the heart rate, which is not good for sleep either. As hard as it is to give up something completely, instead try avoiding these substances 6-8 hours before bedtime. Physical activity is good for both your body and your sleep cycle. Exercise will help you fall asleep faster, put you in a deep sleep for longer, and you will wake up less during the night. As good as exercise is for you, I wouldn’t suggest running a marathon right before bed. Maybe some light stretches to help you transition into sleep mode. Sleep hygiene is a variety of practices that help your sleep quality. A few practices include having a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, limit map time to 20 to 30 minutes, making the room dark and free of distractions. Put your phone down, nothing good ever happens after 2 am, or in our case 11 pm. This is where you need to focus on your sleep and only your sleep. Relaxation techniques will also help get your mind in the mood for sleep. Some of these techniques are meditation and deep breathing exercises. Go fill up the tub, throw a bath bomb in there and relax. This will actually have counter anxiety of racing thoughts.

Weight gain is a touchy topic, so obviously we’re gonna talk about it! The amount of sleep you get can actually put a damper on the number on the scale. A healthy body requires a healthy amount of sleep. It appears that a sleepy brain craves junk food, and with no impulse control, it is harder to say no to cravings. It’s like a negative domino effect that leads from one bad decision to another. Sleep also affects your metabolism. Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This means that you are more apt to hang onto fat. If you have sleep deprivation, after just 4 days, your body’s ability to process insulin decreases. Insulin is important as it is a hormone needed to change sugar, sugar, starches, and other food into energy. With your body’s ability to process insulin decreases, diabetes could be in the future for you. In the end, too little sleep hampers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain. So the more you sleep, the more you have control of what you are putting into your body.

Sleep can also improve your memory. While you are sleeping, your mind is hard at work. Sleep is very important for many aspects of brain functions, such as cognition, concentration productivity, and performance. Sleep can maximize problem-solving skills, and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.

Studies have shown that little sleep is linked with serious health problems like heart disease and heart attack. Now, I’m not saying that lack of sleep causes heart disease, it’s more of an increase of the risk factors. Basically, when you sleep, your blood pressure drops and it is important for your blood pressure to fall during the night. With little sleep, your blood pressure will not fall low enough which could lead to possible complications later on. We know that when our immune system is down, we typically get sick, but did you know that sleep could be the one affecting your immune system? Well I got some information for you. When you sleep, your immune system releases proteins which help promote sleep. These proteins actually stimulate and coordinate white blood cell activity which fights infections and inflammation. Lack of sleep can make you sick because of the reduced number of antibodies and killer cells in you.Even more reasons to catch some more ZzZzZ

So I don’t know about you, but it sounds like getting more sleep can really help our overall health. So let us all jump into bed, grab our cozy blankets and fluffy pillows and take better care of our heath! Sleepwell pillows fans!