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Hacks

Forget the health spa: look and feel healthier by sleeping better

There are many reasons why sleep is so important to wellbeing. Your body, mind and emotions all benefit from a restful night of high quality sleep. If you’re looking for an excuse to relax and recharge, here are a few great reasons to allocate a little extra time in bed over the coming weekend.

Balance your hormones

Our hormones are like the body’s instant messaging system; they are responsible for everything from moods, to fertility, to immune system functions. Critical hormones are produced and regulated during sleep, so if this process is disrupted or compromised, the results can be very damaging to health.

For example, inadequate sleep increases the production of ghrelin, the hormone that causes hunger, while suppressing leptin – which is responsible for making you feel full. Broken or inadequate sleep can fuel hunger pangs, and over time lead to weight gain.

Regenerate your skin and muscles

Better sleep helps reduce cortisol levels, which in turn reduce the likelihood of heart problems and high blood pressure. The rate at which your cells repair themselves is also at its most intense during sleep, so the idea of ‘beauty sleep’ is more than just an idiom. Skin health deteriorates as a result of insufficient sleep, affecting your complexion and causing bags under your eyes, and the less time your facial muscles spend in a relaxed state, the more quickly you will develop frown lines.

Balance your emotions

One of the reasons people who are well-rested have more stable moods is directly related to their hormonal balance, which is improved by adequate sleep. But the emotional benefits go deeper than this: the simple matter of not feeling tired all day contributes to a sense of calmness and patience. Good sleep is associated with greater happiness and empathy, which both work to ensure stronger and more rewarding relationships.

Think better, and more clearly

Studies have shown that adequate quantities of deep, restorative slumber help the brain consolidate learning and improve memory and recall, as well as contributing to heightened alertness and faster reaction times. From a more self-reflective angle, as you begin to examine and think about the factors affecting your sleep, you will naturally also develop a deeper understanding of yourself and a more profound insight into the forces that shape your life.

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