4 Ways Sleep Can Dramatically Improve Your Life

In the 10 years that I have been hosting our radio show, I've spoken to at least a dozen experts in the field of sleep and sleep deprivation. We've broadcast countless studies connecting a lack of sleep to pretty much everything that ails us. But in the spirit of giving you some bullet points you can use immediately (and share with your family), here are the top 4 ways a better night's sleep will improve everything in your life:

1. Your brain will be sharper. That’s because skimping on sleep can literally age your brain by 7 years! In a recent study, middle-aged adults who got less than 6 hours of sleep a night scored equal to senior citizens on tests of memory, reasoning, and vocabulary. I'm in the middle of reading Dr. Daniel Amen's book, Change your Brain, Change your Body. He has performed thousands of brain scans on sleep deprived people, and the scans show a consistent connection between sleep deprivation and early onset Alzheimer's disease.

2. You’ll have a better relationship. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied the sleeping habits of adults and found that poor sleepers were more likely to nitpick and fight with their spouses compared to adults who slept soundly.

3. A good night's sleep will make you a nicer person. A recent study in the Academy of Management Journal found that exhaustion increases unethical behavior like lying and cheating. And a lack of sleep also makes people ruder.

4. Sleep will make you thinner, and better looking! According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, adults who sleep less than 5 hours a night are 32% more likely to be overweight or obese. That's because a lack of sleep increases production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes you hungrier and more likely to overeat. And pictures of well-rested people were rated as more attractive by strangers, compared to pictures of the same people when they were sleep-deprived.

If you are having a hard time getting 7-8 hours a night, it's important to find out why. Your first step should be NOT TO IGNORE IT. Then, try using relaxation techniques. You can find many of them on Tesh.com. If those don't work, please make an appointment soon with your doctor. Physicians deal with serious sleep problems every day. But before your jump on the Ambien wagon, get more than one opinion. Drugs like Ambien can sometimes produce serious sleep-walking/sleep-texting/sleep-eating episodes. I have my own pre-sleep ritual that works incredibly well, and I'll share that with you in my next 'Sleep Blog.'

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