WELLNESS
01/02/2016 02:29 pm ET Updated Jan 13, 2016

6 Ways Sleep Benefits Your Mind

Ready to increase your number?

Milk may do a body good, but sleep is the mind's best friend.

Everything from your happiness to how well you age depends on your brain. When you're sleep deprived, your cognitive functioning plummets to a less-than-ideal level, making it hard to go about your day. That poses a serious threat to your mood, your memory and more.

But here's the good news. There's an antidote to the negative effects of sleep deprivation: Hiking up your number. (The number of hours of sleep you get, that is.)

The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night in order to reap the benefits of a proper night's rest. When it comes to sleep, a high number is a great thing -- especially for your brain.

Still not convinced? Below are just a few ways getting your Zs can transform your mind, and ultimately, your life.

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1. Sleep boosts your mental health.

Hit the hay early for your mental well-being. Research shows that long-term sleep loss may increase depressive symptoms. Too little rest can also heighten feelings of stress and worry. If you're too anxious to drift off, try getting out of bed, meditating or writing in a journal to help prep your mind for rest.

2. It helps make your memory sharper.

Talk about a relaxing way to fight an aging brain. Research suggests that proper amounts of sleep can help your brain stay sharper and boosts your power of recall. A well-rested mind makes it a heck of a lot easier for you to remember tasks, facts and your high school English teacher's name.

3. Getting those Zs puts you in a better mood.

You've probably heard of feeling "hangry" -- the emotional rage that happens when you're hungry -- but what about "slangry?" A September 2015 small study found that a lack of sleep can make it hard for you to regulate your emotions. Even fairly neutral stress triggers you would otherwise manage without anger may feel more intense without enough sleep. More Zs = A happier mood.

4. It aids in decision making.

Here's a good reason to "sleep" on a big choice. Research shows your shuteye can influence your decisions. Scientists found that a period of unconscious thought -- not unlike sleep -- can help aid better decision making. Besides, who wants to make a life-altering choice with a tired mind?

5. It helps you focus on your everyday tasks.

If you don't get enough sleep for yourself, do it for your job. Studies show shuteye can help you remain sharp and alert throughout the course of your day, making your to-do list feel way more manageable than it would without sleep. Even naps can help boost your focus. Sleep also improves learning and problem-solving skills.

6. Sleep physically clears your mind.

You take out the trash in your house, now let sleep take out the trash in your mind. Neurological science shows that your brain "clears" itself of "trash," or bad toxins that accumulate over time, when you sleep. Perhaps that's why you feel so much better when you wake up from a good night's rest.

Ready to increase your (sleep) number, yet?


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