Sleep is a beautiful thing.

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Teenager sleep with the BooksSleep recharges the brain and allows the body to relax and heal, which is accomplished in several ways:

Recharges the Brain

  • Increases our immune responses to infections during sleep. So if you feel yourself coughing or sneezing one too many times, get to bed a little earlier. Sleep might just be your best medicine…

Repairs muscles

  • The blood supply to muscles is increased which helps to repair muscles.

Assists with memory

  • REM (rapid eye movement) sleep plays a major role in memory storage and retention, organization, as well as new learning and performance. When sleep is disrupted, the brain’s ability to transfer short-term memory into long-term memory is impaired.

Sleep is essential for anyone who wants to do well on a test or play sports without tripping over their feet. Sleep deficit impacts everything from your ability to pay attention in class to your mood. But most young people don’t get enough sleep.

Sleeping too little or too much might also shorten your life. Say what? Yep, you’re too young to afford to lose years of your life! We know school, work and life balance can be demanding, but have you considered the impacts?

Research from the University of Georgia has concluded that too little sleep means stress, anxiety and loss of coping skills, reduced immunity to disease and viral infection, feelings of lethargy, mood shifts, impaired judgment and reduced productivity.

Reduction in cognitive functioning and reaction time includes the ability to concentrate, remember, perform complex tasks, think logically, analyze new information and think critically. This involves decision-making skills, vocabulary and communication skills, creativity, motor skills and coordination and perceptual skills.

How can you tell if you’re not getting enough sleep?

  • If you fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed
  • Cannot wake up in the morning at the appropriate time without an alarm clock
  • Feel sleepy during the day
  • Struggle to get out of bed in the morning
  • Fall asleep during meetings or lectures
  • Need caffeine to keep you awake, often sleep extra hours on the weekend
  • Fall asleep watching TV
  • Have trouble concentrating and remembering
  • Fall asleep after heavy meals or after having one or two alcoholic drinks

How can you make sure you GET enough sleep?

Set a Regular Bedtime. Going to bed at the same time each night signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Waking up at the same time every day can also help establish sleep patterns. Try to stick to your sleep schedule, even on weekends.

Exercise Regularly. Try not to exercise right before bed, though, as it can raise your body temperature and wake you up. Sleep experts believe that exercising five or six hours before bedtime (in late afternoon) may actually help a person sleep.

Avoid Stimulants. Don’t drink beverages with caffeine after 4 p.m. Nicotine is also a stimulant, so quitting smoking may help you sleep better. And drinking alcohol in the evening can also cause a person to be restless and wake up during the night.

Relax Your Mind. Avoid violent, scary or action movies or television right before bed. Reading books with involved or active plots may also keep you from falling or staying asleep.

Unwind by Keeping the Lights Low. Light signals the brain that it’s time to wake up. Stay away from bright lights, including computer screens, and meditate or listen to soothing music.

Don’t Nap Too Much. Naps of more than 30 minutes during the day may keep you from falling asleep later.

Avoid All-Nighters. Don’t wait until the night before a big test to study. Cutting back on sleep the night before a test may mean you perform worse than you would if you’d studied less but got more sleep.

Create the Right Sleeping Environment. Studies show that people sleep best in a dark room that is slightly on the cool side. Close your blinds or curtains, making sure they’re heavy enough to block out light, and turn down the thermostat in your room. Pile on extra blankets or wear pajamas if you’re cold. Lots of noise can be a sleep turnoff, as well.

Wake Up with Bright Light. Bright light in the morning tells your body that it’s time to get going.

In other words: sleep does the body good. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you are getting enough sleep and are sleeping well, try it and see if you notice any improvements in your life! Enjoy the Zzzzs

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