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Many of us take getting a good night’s sleep for granted, and instead put it last on our priority list when burning the candle at both ends. We realize we need the sleep and that it is important. But often it’s thought we’ll catch the extra snooze on Saturday and Sunday when many times this doesn’t occur since other responsibilities or activities pop up on the weekend.

Like regular workouts and a healthy diet, a good night’s sleep is just as important to our bodies and our minds to function effectively and efficiently. Sleep is another vital ingredient to a healthy well-being and it impacts nearly every area of our daily life. Not only does it refresh the body and the mind, but regular sleep habits will make you feel your best.

Most people don’t realize how much sleep they need and why it is so important to their well-being. Studies have shown that sleep plays an essential role in promoting physical health, longevity, and emotional well-being and that our bodies regulates our sleeping habits, the same as it regulates our eating, drinking, exercising and breathing. Other studies confirm that people who get the right amount of sleep on a regular basis tend to live longer and, overall, have healthier lives than those who sleep too few or even too many hours each night.

When our bodies do not get enough sleep, our bodies recognizes and remembers the sleep deficit and expects and needs us to return the missed zzz’s in the very near future. When the catch up on sleep doesn’t occur, problems can develop, such as forgetfulness, moodiness, poor concentration, slower reaction times, injuries, health issues such as heart disease and diabetes, weight gain and less mojo for exercising and activities. Even a shorter lifespan.

How much sleep each person actually needs differs from individual to individual. Some people need a great deal of sleep, while others require only a minimum. I happen to need at least eight hours of sleep every night which is the average. Finding your right amount of sleep hours and remaining consistent about are both key. Even better is going to bed and rising at the same times day in and day out.

Regular, good nights’ rest improves the quality and the length of your life. Other benefits include helping to keep your heart healthy, helping to reduce stress, improving your memory and mood, reducing your chances of diabetes, helps to repair your body and helps control body weight issues.

Eating the right foods in the hours before you hit the hay may help you fall asleep faster and deeper. Ten foods that will help you snooze are almonds, cherries, bananas, oatmeal, hard-cooked eggs edamame, miso soup, herbal teas, dairy and cereal. Ten foods that will make you toss and turn during the night include caffeine, aged cheeses, spicy foods, processed or smoked meats, tomato-based sauces, energy drinks, ginseng tea, milk chocolate and alcohol.

So find the best ritual for you before going to bed. May it be reading a book, a glass of warm milk or some snuggle time with your honey. Snooze away and awaken to another great day in your life.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.