Tag Archives: Balance

Four Simple Steps for Abundant Living

sea-749619_1280In today’s world we are so often reminded of how, through our intention, we have the ability to manifest our destiny. That with clear vision, faith, and by employing an act as if attitude, the universe will magically open up and bestow its riches upon us. But most of us simply find it difficult to break the monotony of the day to day grind or the constant barrage by the voice that resides within us. We batter and bruise ourselves throughout each hour of each day telling ourselves stories about how we are lacking. It is a struggle to maintain any real sense of our capability to manifest something let alone anything our hearts desire. We forget how powerful, graceful, and divine we truly are. Why say no, and why not are concepts that seem to elude us almost entirely. We lose our grip on the magic that surrounds us, the magic which enables us to create the very lives we are living.

It is the strength within our perception of the world around us, and our self-perception that ultimately serve to shape our reality. There are steps we can take to improve our perception to include the gift of possibility more frequently throughout our days. We choose to focus our thoughts in any particular direction, and that direction shapes our perception and predicts our experiences from moment to moment. By implementing the following short list of daily rituals we empower ourselves with the possibility for better or more rewarding experiences.

  1. Practice Daily Gratitude:

Take time every morning and every evening to give thanks. Start a journal that you will write down at least three things you are thankful for right after you wake up in the morning. These should not be things you feel you should be grateful for, but things that you truly are grateful for, no matter how big or small, then do the same ritual right before you go to bed at night. By practicing this ritual you are setting the stage for your day from a positive perspective by choosing to reflect on positive things. By practicing gratitude, you remind yourself of what is working in your life, shifting your thought patterns toward a more positive light. You are also enjoying a sense of abundance and more will be drawn to you.

  1. Take a Time-Out:

It is important that we take at least ten to twenty minutes a day to be alone and reconnect with ourselves. This is meant to be quiet time that you use to connect to your higher self, reminding yourself of why you are valued and what you are capable of. This is a moment to find peace and tranquility with the real you. This will strengthen your spirit and reinforce your positive frame of mind.

  1. Focused Thinking through Journaling:

Keep a journal of what you truly desire from any given scenario or aspect of your life and write in the journal daily. This will aid you in setting clear personal boundaries and prevent you from bringing negative situations into your life. Focused thinking will also strengthen your determination and encourages you to think outside the box, allowing for more opportunities to present themselves to you. This practice will empower you as you become clearer and clearer on what you do and do not want. Your sense of self-worth will improve and your drive and motivation will also increase.

  1. Give to Others:

The act of giving or doing for others brings a feeling of balance and wellbeing to your heart. It enriches your experience of life to bring happiness to others. The act of giving reminds you that you are worthy and valuable. Your sense of self-worth increases dramatically when you perform the act of giving.

Practicing these rituals on a daily basis will train your thoughts to stay focused on possibility and keep you in a positive mindset, effectively allowing abundance to find you. By the repetitive action of the steps listed above you are going about the building of a better life for yourself that will be more fulfilling than it would otherwise.

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From the Chef ♣ July 2015

July is upon us and we hope you are enjoying your summer.

This month we will be focussing our thoughts on the trials and tribulations of self. No where will the work you do count more than the work you put into you, and we want to inspire your best self. Keep checking in all month long for new posts about balance, creativity, and other things like the power of perception. Most of the posts this month will have to do with helping you improve and become open to the power of possibility.

Cheers,

Michelle Rene.

Healthy Choices – Finding Balance

“Balance” 14×11 in. painting by Michelle Rene Goodhew
MichelleReneGoodhew.com

Finding Balance

There are 7 main energy centers in the body, known as chakras. Each chakra is located throughout our body so that it correlates to specific body ailment and physical dysfunctions; each energy center also houses our mental and emotional strengths. When we have a physical issue, it creates weaknesses in our emotional behavior. When we release the stale energy from the body, it can undo any tightness, stiffness, or malfunction of that area.

The clearing of the energy can also balance our emotional state of mind. The Chakra Mind-Body Balance is a two-way street: if there are certain fears and emotions we are holding on to, we experience physical restrictions, too.

If you have achiness or stiffness, or certain reoccurring emotions and fears, read along and you may find out which chakra is affected or blocked.


Meditation – Chakra Balancing

Root to Crown92398b1dde61c6efab1daf33a83e4717

Audio Length: 35 Minutes
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This audio uses bin-aural beats with background music to induce brain wave entrancement for Chakra Balancing.

http://free-meditation-music.com/chakra-balancing/


 Check Out Your Chakras

1st or Root Chakra

 The Root Chakra is located at the base of the spine, near your tailbone. This chakra is represented by the color red and governs your most primal survival instincts. Since this chakra serves as our foundation, you might feel detached or “scattered” when this energy center is blocked. Other symptoms could include intestinal problems, poor circulation, hypertension, aggressive behavior, insecurity and unexplained fear.

Physical imbalances in the root chakra include problems in the legs, feet, rectum, tailbone, immune system, male reproductive parts and prostrate gland. Those with imbalances here are also likely to experience issues of degenerative arthritis, knee pain, sciatica, eating disorders, and constipation.

Emotional imbalances include feelings affecting our basic survival needs: money, shelter and food; ability to provide for life’s necessities.

When this chakra is balance, you feel supported, a sense of connection and safety to the physical world, and grounded.

The lesson of this chakra is self-preservation; we have a right to be here.

2nd or Sacral Chakra

The Sacral Chakra is located in the lower abdomen, just below the navel. This chakra is represented by the color orange and governs your sense of pleasure and well-being. It also rules your sexual desire and has a direct influence on your relationship with money as well. When this center is blocked, you could experience menstrual problems, prostate disease, IBS, dependency issues, destructive behaviors and problems with control.

Physical imbalances include sexual and reproductive issues, urinary problems, kidney dysfunctions, hip, pelvic and low back pain.

Emotional imbalances include our commitment to relationships. Our ability to express our emotions. Our ability to have fun, play based on desires, creativity, pleasure, sexuality. Fears of impotence, betrayal, addictions.

When this chakra is balanced, we have an ability to take risks, we are creative, we are committed. We are passionate, sexual and outgoing.

The lesson of this chakra is to honor others.

3rd or Solar Plexus Chakra

The Solar Plexus Chakra is located above the navel, in your stomach, and is represented by the color yellow. This chakra governs your self-esteem and self-worth. When blocked, you might experience feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, as well as diabetes, ulcers, intestinal problems and pessimism.

Physical imbalances include digestive problems, liver dysfunction, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, stomach ulcers, pancreas and gallbladder issues, colon diseases.

Emotional imbalances include issues of personal power and self-esteem, our inner critic comes out. Fears of rejection, criticism, physical appearances.

When this chakra is balanced, we feel self-respect and self-compassion. We feel in control, assertive, confident.

The lesson of this chakra is self-acceptance.

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4th or Heart Chakra

The Heart Chakra is located at the center of the chest, just above your heart and represented by the color green. This chakra governs your inner peace and of course, your ability to give and receive love. When blocked, you might experience a lack of self-control, allergies, problems with the immune system, diseases of the heart, jealousy and difficulty opening up to others.

Physical imbalances include asthma, heart disease, lung disease,issues with breasts, lymphatic systems, upper back and shoulder problems, arm and wrist pain.

Emotional imbalances include issues of the heart; over-loving to the point of suffocation, jealousy, abandonment, anger, bitterness. Fear of loneliness.

When this chakra is balanced we feel joy, gratitude, love and compassion, forgiveness flows freely, trust is gained.

The lesson of this chakra is I Love.

5th or Throat Chakra

The Throat Chakra is located in the throat area (thus its name), and governs your ability for self-expression and communication.Represented by the color blue, this chakra also rules your physical health. When blocked, you could experience respiratory problems, sore throats, thyroid problems or difficulty expressing yourself. You might also find it difficult to trust others and have difficulty making (and sticking to) decisions.

Physical imbalances include thyroid issues, sore throats, laryngitis, TMJ, ear infections, ulcers, any facial problems (chin, cheek, lips, tongue problems) neck and shoulder pain.

Emotional imbalances include issues of self-expression through communication, both spoken or written. Fear of no power or choice. No willpower or being out of control.

When this chakra is balanced, we have free flowing of words,expression, communication. We are honest and truthful yet firm. We are good listeners.

The lesson of this chakra is to speak up and let your voice be heard.

6th or Third Eye Chakra

The Brow Chakra is located on your forehead, between your eyes. This is often referred to as the “Third Eye” because it is here that your intuitive and psychic energy resides. Represented by the color indigo, this chakra also governs your imagination, your intelligence and your decision-making skills. When this chakra is blocked, you could experience sinus problems, eye infections, headaches and an inability to focus or concentrate.

Physical imbalances include headaches, blurred vision, sinus issues, eyestrain, seizures, hearing loss, hormone function.

Emotional imbalances include issues with moodiness, volatility, andself-reflection; An inability to look at ones own fears, and to learn from others. Day-dream often and live in a world with exaggerated imagination.

When this chakra is balanced we feel clear, focused, and can determine between truth and illusion. We are open to receiving wisdom and insight.

The lesson of this chakra is to see the big picture.

7th or Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra is located at the top of the head and is the most “evolved” of the seven major chakras. Represented by the color violet, it is here that your connection to the Divine resides and where Universal energy enters your body. When blocked, you could experience depression, confusion, narcissism and difficulty trusting others.

Physical imbalance include depression, inability to learn, sensitivity to light, sound, environment.

Emotional imbalances include issues with self-knowledge and greater power. Imbalances arise from rigid thoughts on religion and spirituality, constant confusion, carry prejudices, “analysis paralysis.” Fear of alienation.

When this chakra is balanced, we live in the present moment. We have an unshakeable trust in our inner guidance.

The lesson of this chakra is live mindfully.

After reading this, you (like me) may feel that more than one chakra is imbalanced or blocked. This is because when one is blocked, the other chakras begin to compensate and either become overactive or under-active.

The best way to start balancing them is to start at the root chakraand work your way up to the crown chakra.



Healthy Choices – How to Open Your Chakras

According to Hindu and/or Buddhist belief, chakras are vast (yet confined) pools of energy in our bodies which govern our psychological qualities. There are said to be seven main chakras in all; four in our upper body, which govern our mental properties, and three in the lower body, which govern our instinctual properties. They are:

  1. The Muladhara (root) chakra.
  2. The Svadhisthana (sacral) chakra.
  3. The Manipura (solar plexus) chakra.
  4. The Anahata(heart) chakra.
  5. The Visuddhi (throat) chakra.
  6. The Ajna (third eye) chakra.
  7. The Sahasrara (crown) chakra

According to Buddhist/Hindu teaching all of the chakras should contribute to a human’s well-being. Our instincts would join forces with our feelings and thinking. Some of our chakras are usually not open all the way (meaning, they operate just like when you were born), but some are over-active, or even near closed. If the chakras are not balanced, peace with the self cannot be achieved.

It is surprising how many people use improper posture when meditating. It is important to note that the human body is made up of energy systems that move throughout, and that proper posture ensures the most effective flow to reach optimum success with an intention. Western peoples might find the ancient Egyptian way of meditating preferable to eastern or Indian methods of sitting cross legged. Ancient Egyptians would sit upright with palms of hands on knees and elbows in tight, heels together and toes pointed outward.

Steps

  1. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 1.jpg
    1

    Understand that if you are opening your chakras, there is no need to try and make over-active chakras less active. They are simply compensating for the inactivity of closed chakras. Once all of the chakras are opened, the energy evens out, and becomes balanced.

  2. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2.jpg
    2

    Open the Root Chakra (red). This chakra is based on being physically aware and feeling comfortable in many situations. If opened, you should feel well-balanced and sensible, stable and secure. You don’t distrust people around you for no reason.You feel present in what is happening right now, and very connected to your physical body. If it’s under-active: you tend to be fearful or nervous, and easily feel unwelcome. If it’s over-active: you may be materialistic and greedy. You feel as if you should be secure and are unwelcome to a change.

    • Use the body and become aware of it. Do yoga, walk around the block, or do some manual house-cleaning. These activities let your body become known to you, and will strengthen the chakra.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet1.jpg
    • Ground yourself. This means that you should connect with the ground, and feel it beneath you. To do this, stand up straight and relaxed, put your feet shoulder width apart, and slightly bend your knees. Move your pelvis forward a little, and keep your body balanced, so that your weight is evenly distributed over the soles of your feet. Then sink your weight forward. Stay in this position for several minutes.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet2.jpg
    • After grounding yourself, sit cross-legged, as shown in the picture below.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet3.jpg
    • Let the tips of your thumb and index finger touch gently, in a peaceful motion.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet4.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Root chakra and what it stands for, at the spot in between the genitals and the anus.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet5.jpg
    • Silently, yet clearly, chant the sound “LAM.”
    • All this time, let yourself relax, still thinking about the chakra, it’s meaning, and how it does or should affect your life.
    • Keep doing this until you are completely relaxed. You may have a “clean” feeling.
    • Visualize a closed red flower. Imagine a very powerful energy radiating it: it slowly opens showing four red petals full of energy.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet9.jpg
    • Contract the perineum holding breath and releasing.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 2Bullet10.jpg
  3. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 3.jpg
    3

    Open the Sacral Chakra (orange). This chakra deals with feeling and sexuality. If open, feeling are released with liberty, and are expressed without you being over-emotional. You would be open to affinity and can be passionate as well as outgoing. You also have no problems based on sexuality. If it’s under-active: you tend to be unemotional or impassive, and are not very open to anybody. If it’s over-active: you tend to be sensitive and emotional all the time. You may also be very sexual.

    • Sit on your knees, with your back straight, but relaxed.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 3Bullet1.jpg
    • Lay your hands in your lap, palms ups, on top of each other. Left hand underneath, the palm touching the back fingers of the right hand, and the thumbs touch gently.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 3Bullet2.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Sacral Chakra and what it stands for, at the sacral bone (lower back).
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 3Bullet3.jpg
    • Silently, yet clearly, chant the sound “VAM.”
    • All this time, let yourself relax, still thinking about the chakra, it’s meaning, and how it does or should affect your life.
    • Keep doing this until you are completely relaxed. Again, you may have a “clean” feeling.
  4. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 4.jpg
    4

    Open the Navel Chakra (yellow). This chakra encircles confidence, especially when in a group. When open, you should feel in control and have good feeling of dignity in yourself. If it’s under-active: you tend to be passive and indecisive. You could be frequently apprehensive and this doesn’t reward you. If it’s over-active: you tend to be imperious and aggressive.

    • Sit on your knees, with your back straight, but relaxed.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 4Bullet1.jpg
    • Put your hands before your stomach, slightly below your solar plexus. Let the fingers join at the tops, all pointing away from you. Cross the thumbs and straighten the fingers (this is important).
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 4Bullet2.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Navel Chakra and what it stands for, at the spine, slightly above the navel.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 4Bullet3.jpg
    • Silently, yet clearly, chant the sound “RAM.”
    • All this time, let yourself relax even more, continuing to think about the chakra, it’s meaning, and how it does or should affect your life.
    • Keep doing this until you are completely relaxed. You should have a “clean” feeling (for every chakra).
  5. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 5.jpg
    5

    Open the Heart Chakra (green). This chakra is all about love, caring, and endearment. When open, you seem to be compassionate and friendly, always working in amicable relationships. If it’s under-active: you tend to be cold and unfriendly. If it’s over-active: you tend to be so “loving” towards people that you suffocate them, and you could be seen as selfish for it.

    • Sit cross-legged.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 5Bullet1.jpg
    • Let the tips of your index finger and thumb touch on both hands.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 5Bullet2.jpg
    • Put your left hand on your left knee and your right hand in front of the lower part of your breastbone.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 5Bullet3.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Heart Chakra and what it stands for, at the spine, level with the heart.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 5Bullet4.jpg
    • Silently, but clearly, chant the sound “YAM.”
    • All this time, continue to relax your body, and think of the chakra, it’s meaning, and how it does or should affect your life.
    • Keep doing this until you are completely relaxed, and the “clean” feeling returns and/or intensifies within your body.
  6. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 6.jpg
    6

    Open the Throat Chakra (light blue). This chakra is based on self-expression and communication. When the chakra is open, expressing yourself is easy, and art seems to be a great way to do this. If it’s under-active: you tend not to speak too much, so you are classified as shy. If you lie often, this chakra can be blocked. If it’s over-active: you tend to speak so much, it annoys a lot of people. You could also be a pretty bad listener.

    • Once again, sit on your knees.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 6Bullet1.jpg
    • Cross your fingers on the inside of your hands, without the thumbs. Let the thumbs touch at the tops, and pull them up a bit.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 6Bullet2.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Throat Chakra and what it stands for, at the base of the throat.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 6Bullet3.jpg
    • Silently, but clearly, chant the sound “HAM.”
    • All this time, keep on relaxing your body, thinking of the chakra, it’s meaning, and how it does or should affect your life.
    • Keep doing this for about five minutes, and the “clean” feeling will intensify once again.
  7. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 7.jpg
    7

    Open the Third Eye Chakra (blue). Like it’s name, this chakra deals with insight. When open, you have excellent clairvoyance, and tend to dream a lot. If it’s under-active: you tend to look up to other people to think for you. Relying on beliefs too often, you also tend to be confused most of the time. If it’s over-active: you tend to live in a world imagination all day long. In the extremes, you could suffer from frequent daydreams or even hallucinations.

    • Sit cross-legged.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 7Bullet1.jpg
    • Put your hands in front of the lower part of the breast. The middle fingers should be straight and touch the tops, pointing away from you. The other fingers are bent and touch at the two upper phalanges. The thumbs point towards you and meet at the tops.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 7Bullet2.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Third Eye Chakra and what it stands for, a little above the center of the two eyebrows.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 7Bullet3.jpg
    • Silently, but clearly, chant the sound “OM” or “AUM.”
    • All this time, relaxation of the body should come a bit naturally, and continue to think of the chakra, it’s meaning, and how it does or should affect your life.
    • Keep doing this until the same “clean” feeling seems to come back or intensify.
  8. Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 8.jpg
    8

    Open the Crown Chakra (purple). This is the seventh and most spiritual chakra. It encircles a being’s wisdom and being one with the universe. When this chakra is open, prejudice disappears from your To Do list, and you seem to become more aware of the world and it’s connection to yourself. If it’s under-active: you tend to not be very spiritual, and may be quite rigid in your thoughts. If it’s over-active: you tend to intellectualize things all the time. Spirituality seems to come first in your mind, and if you are really over-active, you may even ignore your bodily needs (food, water, shelter).

    • Sit cross-legged.
    • Lay your hand before your stomach. Let the little fingers point up and away from you, touching at their tops, and cross the rest of the fingers with the left thumb underneath the right.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 8Bullet2.jpg
    • Concentrate on the Crown Chakra and what it stands for, at the very top of your head.
      Open Your Spiritual Chakras Step 8Bullet3.jpg
    • Silently, but clearly, chant the sound “NG” (yes, this chant is as hard as it looks).
    • All this time, your body should now be totally relaxed, and your mind should be at peace. However, do not stop concentrating on the Crown Chakra.
    • This meditation is the longest, and should take no less than ten minutes.
    • WARNING: don’t use this meditation for the Crown Chakra if your Root Chakra is not strong or open. Before dealing with this last chakra, you need a strong “foundation” first, which the Root exercises will present to you.

Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Open-Your-Spiritual-Chakras

Feed The Muse – Never Never Land

Fast Asleep

Shut Eye Boosts Your Creative Capabilities


Sleep

Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan. A lack of sleep is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging.

Sleep is connected to successful weight management. Your health is affected by your sleep, a lack of sleep puts added stress on your body and effects your cardiovascular system. Sleeplessness also affects reaction time and decision making. A lack of sleep can contribute to depression. A good night’s sleep can help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep.


A good nights sleep is an invitation to your muse.

In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well. Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.

What Will Help You Improve Your Sleeping Habits?

  • Stop drinking caffeine after 2pm.
  • Avoid a big, heavy meal right before bed.
  • Even though a nightcap may help you relax and fall asleep faster, it’ll make the second half of your sleep cycle restless and unsatisfying. Have your drink at dinnertime (6pm) so it wears off before bed.
  • Doing anything that raises your body temperature too close to bedtime may actually hinder you from falling asleep.
  • Stretching with yoga before bed can calm down your mind, steady your breath, and reduce muscle tension without increasing your heart rate.
  • Bright light too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep. Low lighting signals the biological clock that it’s time to wind down, while bright light signal the brain to remain alert. Try low wattage lightbulbs.
  • Typing in bed can wind you up, so when you do unplug, it will be harder to fall asleep. Disconnect an hour before bed, turn your smartphone off, and put any gadgets on an out-of-reach dresser or in another room so you won’t be able to grab it if you get the late-night urge.
  • The bedroom should be for sleep and sex only, anything else is clutter and has the ability to signal your brain and body that it needs to be alert. Make your bedroom your sanctuary for love and rest.

Surprising Health Benefits Of Sleep

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting creativity and mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.

“Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning,” says David Rapoport, M.D., director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program.

Not anymore. Here are some health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep.

Improve Memory

Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).

“If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.”

In other words if you’re trying to learn something new — whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing — you’ll perform better after sleeping.

Live Longer

Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan — although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.) In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night. Sleep also affects quality of life.

“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep,” says Raymonde Jean, M.D., director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear.”

Curb Inflammation

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep — six or fewer hours a night — have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night. People who have sleep apnea or insomnia can have an improvement in blood pressure and inflammation with treatment of the sleep disorders, Dr. Rapoport says.

Be A Winner

If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep. A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina. The results of this study reflect previous findings seen in tennis players and swimmers.

Improve Your Grades

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. This could lead to “significant functional impairment at school,” the study authors wrote.

In another study, college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did.

“If you’re trying to meet a deadline, you’re willing to sacrifice sleep,” Dr. Rapoport says, “but it’s severe and reoccurring sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning.”

Sharpen Attention

A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids, Dr. Rapoport says.

“Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do,” he adds. “Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.”

A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.

“We diagnose and measure sleep by measuring electrical changes in the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says. “So not surprisingly how we sleep affects the brain.”

Have A Healthy Weight

If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat — 56 percent of their weight loss — than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)

Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.

“Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says. “When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.”

Lower Stress

When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same — and both can affect cardiovascular health.

“Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure,” Dr. Jean says. “It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.”

Avoid Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance — even more than alcohol!

“Sleepiness is grossly underrated as a problem by most people, but the cost to society is enormous,” Dr. Rapoport says. “Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making.”

Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.

Steer Clear Of Depression

Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability.

“A lack of sleep can contribute to depression,” Dr. Jean says. “A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep.”

If you think the long hours put in during the week are the cause of your anxiety or impatience, Dr. Rapoport warns that sleep cannot necessarily be made up during the weekend.

“If you sleep more on the weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week,” he says. “It’s all about finding a balance.