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Sweet Dreams Are Made of Zs


From lowering stress levels and cholesterol to preventing car accidents and boosting creativity, sleep is a force to be reckoned with. Which is why it's vital that all of us get at least seven to eight hours of quality shut eye each night. There's no question that, what happens at night has a direct effect on what happens during the day.

While it may appear that we're resting when we sleep, our mind and our bodies are actually hard at work, making sure our brain and physical health are in tip top shape. Studies show that getting a good night's sleep improves learning, memory retention and problem-solving skills, in addition to helping us pay attention and make decisions. The other side of that coin is that research into sleep deficiency has shown links to depression, suicide, mood swings and difficulty dealing with change.

As we move from our head to the rest of our body, we discover that sleep plays a role in the healing and repair of our cells, tissues and heart and blood vessels. Heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke have all been connected with prolonged sleep deficiency. Who knew what an incredible difference those seven to eight hours of rest make!

Lack of sleep also increases the risk of obesity because it upsets the balance of the hormones in our body that make us feel full or hungry. When we're tired, we end up feeling hungrier than when we are well-rested, and are therefore more likely to overeat.

Not enough evidence? There's more: Sleep is also key to the proper functioning of our immune system. Our bodies have a harder time fighting off common infections when we're sleep deficient. Research has shown that people who got seven or fewer hours of sleep a night were almost three times more likely to get sick compared to those who got eight hours of rest.

Bottom line, turn off the TV, power down your computer and call it a day when the time comes. You know how early you have to get up in the morning, so get into bed when it's possible for you to get eight or more hours of sleep. Don't think you can "catch up" over the weekend–that doesn't actually work. Taking better care of yourself  is as easy as shutting off the lights, closing your eyes and saying good night.