Sleep is one of the most important (and easy) things that we can do to keep our bodies healthy, yet in this ever increasingly busy, crazy world that we are a part of, we seldom get enough.

Sleep is so central to our health and well-being that an inadequate amount can put us at greater risk for serious illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. It can also affect our emotional well-being, and safety. Yet many of us do not make it a priority.

So how does sleep keep us healthy? One of the important benefits is that while we sleep, we produce protein molecules that help our bodies fight infection. Not only that, but those priceless protein molecules also increase our immune system and provide cellular level healing from the damaging effects of exposure to a variety of elements such as stress and pollutants. Go to http://www.better-sleep-better-life.com/benefits-of-sleep.html for more information on how sleep benefits your heart, memory, mood, and more.

Sleep is to a body what a charger is to your electronic device—recharging!

What does sleep deprivation look like?

- You may feel tired, sleepy, irritable, anxious, and/or easily frustrated.
- Thinking clearly may be difficult.
- You may feel clumsy or uncoordinated.
- Your memory may be compromised.
- You might make poor choices/decisions.
- You may be unusually emotional.
- You might be forgetful.
- You may get ill more than usual.

How do I make the most of my sleeping hours?

- Design a bedtime routine that you will follow every night.
- Include calming activities in your bedtime routine such as reading, stretching, or relaxing in a bath.
- When establishing a bedtime routine for children, end the routine with reading the same story every night—this can be reassuring and calming.
- Limit caffeine and sugar.
- Don’t eat meals within several hours of bedtime.
- Choose to watch television outside of the bedroom – if this is not possible, turn the television off when it’s time to fall asleep.
- Don’t engage in vigorous exercise close to your bedtime.
- Don't engage in activities such as homework, playing games, paying bills, eating, and phone communication on the bed—it’s best to associate your bed with sleep.
- Consider using quiet and calming music to help you fall asleep.
- Consider using sound machines that offer a variety of calming sound effects such as rain drops, rippling stream, or white noise.

For more information on sleep, please check out these websites:
KidsHealth.org
SleepFoundation.org
WebMD.com

This article was originally published at http://www.childrenfirstffa.com/sleep-its-overrated-or-is-it/.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Logan is the founder and CEO of Children First Foster Family Agency in northern California.