5 Ways Sleep Makes You Healthier – And Smarter
Getting enough sleep can help improve your thinking skills and general wellbeing.

5 Ways Sleep Makes You Healthier – and Smarter

Wake up! It’s National Sleep Awareness Week. If you’re not keeping close tabs on the hours you sleep, here are more great reasons to start:

You’ll Have Less Pain

Losing sleep markedly lowers your pain threshold, studies say. Whether it’s a chronic pain condition or a twisted ankle, everything aches more if you’re sleep deprived.

You’ll Manage Your Weight Better

Adequate sleep plays a big role in maintaining a healthy weight. On the other hand, getting less sleep is associated with increased appetite, which could lead to weight gain.

You’ll Think Faster

Slicing through brain fog is harder when sleep-deprived neurons are running on fumes, research shows. It impairs your ability to think — making you slower to react and more likely to make mistakes.

Try These 10 Tips to Sleep Better

Everyone’s sleep needs differ, but start with an average range of seven-nine hours regularly. Here are some tips to sleep better:

1. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day, even on weekends.

2. Drink most of your fluids earlier in the day to avoid waking up to go to the bathroom during the night.

3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. If you drink coffee or tea, try to do it before noon.

4. Check the fine print on your medications; some interfere with sleep. If possible, take such medications early in the day.

5. If space allows, use your bedroom for sleep only, and not for working or watching TV.

6. If you cannot fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of going to bed, do something relaxing until you feel tired. Read a book, listen to music, use guided imagery, or enjoy a warm bath.

7. Avoid using your smart phone, computer or watching TV one hour prior to bedtime.

8. Practice good sleep hygiene. Make sure your room is quiet and dark and choose bedding that’s soft and comfortable.

9. Skip bedtime snacks or have only a light snack 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.

10. Do things in the evening that relax you, such as getting together with friends, taking a warm bath, or reading a book. Try to avoid stress before bedtime.

Even making a few of these changes could make a big difference in your sleep – and your health.

Melanie Haiken, Health and Fitness Expert

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.