3 Important Ways Sleep Affects Your Health (And Your Weight)

Are you feeling sleepy this summer? That’s good because you should! The
longer days filled with fresh air and activities in the warm sun keep your feet
moving and your heart pumping. All this summertime fun also helps you sleep
better and burns calories in the process. Find out how sleep affects your
well-being and your weight!

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Sleep plays a big part in your life, affecting you mentally, emotionally,
and physically. Sleep keeps your mind and body healthy by recharging you for
the next day. It also increases metabolism, prevents memory loss, lowers stress
levels, boosts your mood, enhances your performance and functionality, and
promotes overall health by decreasing health conditions such as diabetes and
high blood pressure.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

A recent study by The National Sleep Foundation (NSF)
found that most Americans are not getting enough sleep, and are even sleep
deprived. With the hectic demands and distractions of modern life, it is
especially important to get the recommended hours of sleep every night. And so,
the NSF created new guidelines
for a good night’s rest
, broken down by age group as follows:

•Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day (previously
•Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (previously 14-15)
•Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
•Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (previously 11-13)
•School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours (previously 10-11)
•Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (previously 8.5-9.5)
•Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
•Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9
•Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

Too Much Or Too Little Is Trouble

Be careful, too much of anything can be a bad thing — and that goes for
sleeping too! Oversleeping can cause you to become groggy, dehydrated, and
unmotivated. Under sleeping can cause more stress, bad decisions and
impulsiveness (especially with food), and slows your metabolism which leads to
weight gain. It’s important to find the right balance for yourself.

Sleep More To Burn More

Being deprived of sleep can lower your metabolism, while increasing your
stress, hunger, and comfort food cravings. The American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition
found that people increased late-night
snacking (of energy-dense, high-carb snacks) when they were sleep deprived.
Even more, not getting enough sleep can influence you to eat larger portions
more often to compensate. Sleep deprivation interferes with your body’s
metabolism to process foods into energy from your bloodstream, so it becomes
stored as extra fat instead — the total “lose-lose” situation.

Tips And Tricks For A Terrific Slumber

Cut out caffeine, alcohol, and sugar during the last few
hours before going to bed. It will help you fall asleep easier and for longer
periods of time.

Turn off electronics like laptops and cell phones at
least an hour before going to bed, as the screens emit light which can make it
harder to fall asleep, and keep your mind racing instead of winding down.

Stick to a regular bedtime schedule that will keep your
inner clock in check every day.

• Turn out the lights. It signals your brain to naturally relax.

Start a bedtime ritual such as taking a bath or reading
to help you get calm and peaceful.

It’s true — you can burn more calories by simply sleeping them away. Make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep to improve your health and well-being on mental, emotional, and physical levels.

5 Summer Cocktails That Are Actually Good For You

In the summertime, healthy and hydrated go hand-in-hand.
There are more fresh fruits and vegetables readily available, and our diets
naturally improve during the summer months because it’s easier to make healthy
choices. We also increase our water intake to counteract the heat of the sun.
But at the end of a long day — or while relaxing on vacation — we may want
something more than plain water to sip on while sitting on the deck or hanging
out by the pool. Can we hydrate and be healthy while enjoying a summer
cocktail? Of course we can! Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables in our
summer cocktails is not only refreshing, but it cuts calories and provides
nutrition our bodies need. Use this list to get creative with your summer
cocktails, and enjoy delicious health benefits at the same time. I’ll drink to

#1 Sangria
Sangria, a cocktail from Spain and Portugal,
is refreshing and can be a smart option this summer if you’re careful about
what you’re adding to the pitcher. Using red wine as your base provides
antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease. Opt out of the simple syrup
and replace it with a flavored sparkling water that has no added sugar. Add
plenty of fresh fruit to boost your Vitamin C and fiber.

#2 Spiked Lemonade and Limeade
Spiked or not, lemonades and limeades are the go-to beverage of the summer.
Make it an adult version by adding a splash of vodka to your glass. To cut
calories, sweeten your lemonade or limeades with agave nectar instead of table
sugar or simple syrup. Don’t be afraid to mix new flavors with this drink.
Cucumber and mint in lemonade and cherries in limeade are winning combinations.

#3 Wine Spritzer
Some people love nothing more than a glass of perfectly chilled white wine in
the heat of summer. Lighten this cocktail by pouring a half glass of wine and
filling the rest with club soda or sparkling water. Depending on the type of
white wine, several slices of fresh peaches or strawberries make the perfect
healthy garnish for this beverage.

#4 Garden Fresh Bloody Mary
Use tomatoes from your local farmer’s market as the base, instead of pre-made mixes that are loaded with sodium. To boost the flavor in your Bloody Mary, try adding jalapenos to the tomato puree. These spicy peppers not only add flavor, but the heat will encourage you to savor your beverage instead of gulping it.

#5 Lighter Classics
Piña coladas and margaritas may be your favorite summer cocktails, but it can
be hard to enjoy one when you know the calorie count. On average, piña coladas
have 378 calories and margaritas have 280 calories. But you can still enjoy the
flavors of your favorites if you alter the ingredients and avoid high calorie
mixers. When making a piña colada, use light cream of coconut instead of the
full-fat one, and only use about a tablespoon, replacing the rest with
sparkling water. Get back to basics with a classic margarita. Fresh lime,
triple sec and tequila are all you need instead of those sickly sweet margarita
mixes. For some flair, try adding different fresh fruits or vegetables to find
your personal margarita flavor.

Wanting to look and feel our best while enjoying an adult beverage is
possible. Take advantage of the summer bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables to
not only make healthier summer cocktails to sip, but to also inspire a new
favorite that shows off your creative side. Drink to your health and remember….
it’s five o’clock somewhere! Cheers!