5 surprising things your lack of sleep is destroying

Sleep is about so much more than feeling well-rested.

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  • We all feel better when we're sleeping well, but did you know that good sleep habits can impact everything from your marriage to your weight loss goals? Here are just a few ways high quality sleep supports other aspects of your life.

  • Sleep improves your relationships

  • If you're someone who is unbearably cranky after a sleepless night, this won't come as a surprise to you, but well-rested people tend to argue less and have better relationships.

  • Numerous studies show that sleeping well increases relationship satisfaction and leads to longer, happier marriages.

  • If you and your spouse are in the midst of those pesky no-sleep baby years, don't worry. It can help to simply acknowledge that your lack of sleep is a big part of any relationship problems you're having. By the time our second (wakeful) baby came along, my husband and I were bickering, a lot. We simply agreed that anything mean we said to each other when we were exhausted, didn't count. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it helped.

  • Sleep flushes out brain toxins

  • Amazing changes happen in your brain when you sleep, and we're not just talking about brain activity. There is evidence that there's a certain amount of structural change in the brain during a good night's sleep.

  • Research indicates that the space between brain cells seems to increase while we're asleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that have built up during the day. This means sleep is 'cleaning' our brains. No wonder we feel more clear-headed after a good night's sleep.

  • Sleep makes you thinner

  • According to an article in Women's Health, there are several reasons you'll lose weight faster if you're sleeping well.

  • Mental benefits of sleep include that clearer brain we've already mentioned, which can support healthier decision-making, and, of course, restful sleep tends to leave us with more energy to exercise. But there's also evidence that sleep has physical effects, helping support a healthy metabolism and regulate hormonal activity, allowing you to burn more calories.

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  • Sleep will stop you making mistakes

  • Any idea what the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, and the nuclear disaster at Chenobyl all have in common? Sadly, they were all at least partially attributed to human error caused by lack of sleep.

  • In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington goes so far as to claim that:

  • "The most basic shift we can make in redefining success in our lives, has to do with our strained relationship with sleep."

  • She goes on to quote Bill Clinton, who apparently once admitted,

  • "Every important mistake I've made in my life, I've made because I was too tired."

  • Good decision making is vital to a happy, prosperous life, and almost every decision we make could probably be made a little better by getting a good night's sleep before making it.

  • Sleep makes you look better

  • The idea of 'beauty sleep' is far from a myth. Most of us instinctively feel that we look brighter and better after a good night's sleep, and we're not wrong.

  • Sleep has amazing benefits for our skin, in particular, and because it supports our general health and wellbeing, consistent high-quality sleep will usually make us look healthier and happier.

  • Sleeping well is about so much more than feeling well-rested in the morning. It's worth working on your sleep hygiene and making any changes you need to get a better night's sleep. It could help with everything from weight management to marital harmony.

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Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website or via Twitter where she tweets as @karenbanes.

Website: http://www.karenbanes.com/

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