If you've ever awakened from a power nap feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day, you know how good sleeping can make you feel. But have you ever wondered exactly why your body naturally gets tired and urges you to hit the hay?
Your body doesn't simply "shut down" as soon as you fall asleep. In fact, it's hard at work helping every mental and physical aspect of you function properly. No wonder the day after a bad night's sleep seems so terrible—you didn't get to properly recharge!
From memory, to mood, to heart health, to your immune system and metabolism, there's pretty much nothing that sleep doesn't benefit. Just think of how irritable you can be after getting fewer hours of sleep than you're used to. Or how easy it is to get sick when you haven't been getting enough shut-eye.
As if that weren't enough reason to jump into bed a little earlier tonight, consider the fact that a lack of sleep can negatively affect your overall physical well-being. People who don't sleep enough are more prone to developing issues like obesity, heart disease and infections—all of which can escalate into bigger problems.
While the amount of sleep necessary for proper functioning varies for each individual, most people should aim for seven to eight hours a night. To make sure that you're getting this amount, avoid factors that can disrupt your snooze session, like drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, vigorously exercising, arguing with a partner or using electronics during the couple of hours before bedtime. You may also want to avoid large or spicy meals and foods containing caffeine (think chocolate) near bedtime.
Instead, establish a soothing routine like taking a bath or doing some relaxation exercises, like meditation or gentle yoga.
Next time you're feeling a bit under the weather, it could simply be because you didn't get enough sleep the night before.