What time are you going to sleep? Surprisingly, the answer to this question makes a big difference in our lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should be getting seven or more hours of sleep each day to maintain great health—yet more than one-third of adults say they don’t get enough sleep. Are you one of them?

Getting the right amount of sleep benefits us in more ways than one. It’s not just about being tired and worried about getting dark circles under your eyes after staying up late—it’s about the long-term, cumulative effects of not getting the proper amount of sleep night after night. If you’re in the group that could use a little more shut-eye, keep reading to discover the top six reasons you need sleep. Plus, you’ll get our handy tips for getting quality sleep night after night.

Sleep Counts: Six Surprising Reasons Why

Improves Mood

Do you easily lose your temper with people or feel lousy during the day? If you’re short-changing yourself on sleep, you may be experiencing sleep deprivation. This can spell trouble when it comes to your mood and disposition. As you sleep, your mind and body are able to reenergize, especially during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. If the balance of neurochemicals in the brain is disrupted, you may end up feeling irritable and unable to cope with life’s issues. More sleep is good news for these problems.

Sharpens Ability to Focus

At work, home or in the classroom, do you find yourself forgetful, disengaged or struggling to pay attention? Sleep rests your body and mind; so a lack of it can impair your ability to accomplish tasks or even drive a car. If you continue depriving yourself of sleep, you increase your risk of forming anxiety disorders, getting into a car accident and making mistakes.

Helps Manage Stress

Are you facing stress and feel overwhelmed? When you get proper sleep, you are better able to cope with stress because your levels of the growth hormone and melatonin are balanced. Without sleep, stress can cause havoc for your health.

Encourages Weight Loss

Feeling hungry all the time? It could be due to lack of sleep. Because your body’s hormones are regulated as you sleep, getting proper sleep can actually decrease your appetite, which leads to weight loss. On another note, sleep increases growth hormone levels, which offsets cortisol that causes fluid retention and inhibits fat burning. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to trim the waist line.

Helps Prevent Chronic Disease

Research studies, according to the CDC, show that proper sleep helps decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. For type 2 diabetes, sleep may be important for improving blood sugar control and may even help reduce the risk for developing the disease.

Helps you Live Longer

Studies show that people who get the right amount of sleep are less likely to die at an early age. Reason being: sleep helps to ensure their immune systems are strong and continuously working, so they’re less likely to pick up infections. Sleep also promotes the healthy regeneration of your body’s cells, which helps with longevity.

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

With sleep being so important, you may be asking yourself, “How can I get the sleep I need and make it great?” Here are several tips for getting quality, restorative sleep.

Get a New Mattress

Is your mattress sagging? Have you had it more than eight years? If “yes” is the answer to either question, it may be time for a new mattress.

Explore the wide world of mattresses. Discover how different mattresses like innerspring, hybrid, wrapped coil and memory foam mattresses offer different benefits that may impact your health.

Buying Tips:

• Look for mattresses that will conform to your body. They provide proper spinal alignment and soothing relief for pressure points.
• Mattresses with gel memory foam help you achieve optimal sleep temperature for a restorative sleep.
• Suggested mattress brands include: Ashley-Sleep®, Beautyrest®, Sealy®, Serta®, Stearns & Foster® and Tempur-Pedic®, all found here. 

Improve Sleep Habits

Getting seven or more hours of sleep is no easy task especially if you lead an active life. Take time to evaluate when and how you sleep, then make the necessary changes to create a sleep favorable environment.

Sleeping Soundly:

• Schedule a regular bedtime and keep to it. This means waking up and going to bed at the same time each day.
• If you’re having trouble getting to bed early, gradually adjust your bedtime no more than 30 minutes earlier each day.
• Keep the bedroom cool between 65°F and 75°F and use room darkening shades.
• Quiet the room by turning off the TV and giving your laptop or cell phone a break.
• Spritz your bed pillows with relaxing scents. Mix lavender, chamomile or ylang-ylang oil drops with water to create calming scents.

Relax Before Bed

Make time and find a way to wind down before getting into bed. Putting yourself in a mellow state of mind can do wonders for achieving your new sleep goals.

Relaxation Remedies:

• Try deep breathing techniques to help calm your central nervous system and quiet your mind.
• Gentle stretching before bed helps soothe tired muscles.
• Set worries aside to be addressed the next day. Turn your focus to a book, soothing music or meditation to help you unwind.

Get a New Pillow

Is your pillow more than a year old? If so, it may be time to get a new one for proper head, neck and shoulder alignment.

Picking Perfection:

Look for pillows that offer the right fit and keep you cool such as those from Bedgear®. These pillows have React® foam that contours to your body and climate control fabric that deflects heat.

Some pillows, such as this Zephyr Gel Memory Foam pillow, are uniquely designed with adjustable gel-infused memory foam inserts—helpful for customizing your own personal fit for all sleep positions and improving airflow.

Dual sided cover pillows like those from Zephyr offer cooling fabric on one side and cozy fabric on the other for a warmer feel—ideal for climates with change of seasons.

Have a Balanced Diet

Who knew your dinner plate could have an effect on quality of sleep? Making healthy choices can benefit your bedtime routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s evidence that shows fatty foods should be avoided. Take steps before bedtime to ensure undisturbed sleep.

Snacking Smart:

• Enjoy a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
• Plan a healthy snack an hour before bed.
• Avoid sleeping on a full stomach.
• Limit how much you drink so you won’t have to use the restroom.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

By following these steps to get more sleep and to improve the quality of your night’s rest, you’ll reap the rewards of a healthier life. If you have put in the effort to improve your sleep habits, share you experience with us! We want to know what works for you. You can use #MyAshleyHome on Instagram to possibly be featured on our feed. If you have achieved a great night’s sleep and want to transform your bedroom space, find inspiration on our Pinterest boards.