The Benefits Of Sleep For Brain Health
It’s a busy world out here! I’m sure if you looked over your daily to-do list, you’d find it impossible to squeeze everything it all in within 24 hours – unless you skip sleep. More people are now cutting out the recommended hours of sleep, so that they can keep making money or keep up with their busy lifestyles. However, you could actually be doing some serious damage to your brain.
Did you know that your brain is most active at night while you’re sleeping than it is during the daytime? Yes, it doesn’t sleep along with you. In fact, brain activity is at its peak while you’re in snooze mode. There are chemicals secreted during deep sleep that help replenish and repair the body and brain cells.
When you are unconscious your body is still in active mode. Sleep is crucial for optimal brain health functions and development. Many people prefer to lose sleep to earn more or keep up with a great nightlife, unaware that they are putting their brain health at risk. Your brain will be less sharp when you lack sleep. Lack of productivity and being laid off or fired is inevitable for someone who is not performing well due to inadequate sleep.
Why Is Sleep Important?
The recommended sleeping hours depend on your age and other factors like pregnancy or sleeping problems. Infants need the most sleep, which is around 14 to 17 hours per day. The National Sleep Foundation also recommended adults to get at least 7 to 9 hours per day. However, most elderly or seniors tend to have lighter sleep schedules and would mostly experience short sleeping periods.
Sleep unleashes the full potential and power of the brain as it sweeps away harmful toxins that allow the brain cells to regenerate for the next day. It is the glymphatic system found in our brain that is tasked with brain maintenance. This is a waste clearance tunnel that rids off the central nervous system (CNS) of metabolites and soluble proteins. The cleaning mechanism or washing away of toxins buildup in the brain only happens when you are asleep, because during the day, the body is busy multitasking as it manages a myriad of bodily functions.
The Deep Sleep Phase or REM sleep
The Deep Sleep Phase or REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) is where the regeneration and repair of brain cells and other organs happen. However, REM tends to decline as you age.
The quality and quantity of the sleep you get in a day plays a pivotal role in memory recall and retention. REM sleep covers around 25% of total sleep. It is also in the REM stage that dreams happen. You also would experience snoring at this phase especially if you have an underlying medical sleeping disorder like sleep apnea. There are different snoring remedies that can help you control that loud snoring to help you sleep better.
REM is also the stage that our body and senses become momentarily paralyzed, so the person cannot move too much. Deep sleep or REM sleep can help you avoid getting the blues, being depressed or lethargic; a healthy REM cycle can also make you less prone to accidents or mistakes.
Getting enough sleep boosts your mental health — and this is one of the best benefits of sleep. This also minimizes the risks of developing mental illnesses that are brought about by lack of sleep.
Sleep deprivation would mean that you could potentially be incurring irreversible loss of neurons or brain cells. According to Claire Sexton, who uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the aging brain, lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep over an extended period of time can result in a dramatic shrinkage of the brain. This directly impairs cognitive functions, mental agility, and memory retention.
Benefits of Sleep to the Brain
Why is sleep important? My mom would always remind me that I needed to be getting enough sleep while I was growing up. Now it is just the same, and if anything, more important. You should always be aware of your bedtime schedules – whether you’re two, twenty, or in your sixties. Yes, sleep is good for your health and boosts brain power. Below are the benefits of sleep to the brain:
- Sharpens memory recall and retention. Recent research has found out that the right amount of sleep can help your mind stay sharp and also boost your mental facets for recall. This also helps you fight off an aging brain that could potentially lead to permanent cognitive impairment. When your mind gets enough rest, you will be able to function at your optimum level, such as memorize facts and retain information better.
- Improves focus. This is crucial in the workplace. If you want to keep your job, you have to get enough sleep. Studies show that if you have had enough shuteye the night before, then you can maintain focus and be alert for the entire day. Power naps are also recommended especially for busy people. If you are always on the move and have long lists of to-do’s to accomplish throughout the day, you need to give in to your circadian rhythm and just sleep. Getting that good nights sleep is a great way to boost your problem-solving and learning skills, as well as avoid cognitive decline. This is especially detrimental when you are on the road driving because self-deprived individuals are more accident-prone than those who have slept well the night before.
- Boosts mental health. Being sleep-deprived has been proven to increase the risk of anxiety and depression. This is because when you lack sleep and have too little time to rest, you are similar to a ticking bomb and can be very emotional and agitated even with little things.
- Puts you in positive mood. People who have slept like a baby would usually be on a happy mood the next day. This is opposed to those who haven’t slept all night or had very little hours of sleep. They would wake up cranky or irritable.
Lack of sleep is said to amplify into extreme feelings of worry and stress.
Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night and engaging into relaxing activities will help you improve mental health and avoid getting burnt out or depressed in the process. Lack of sleep will actually put you in a bad mood because you will have difficulty controlling your emotions. Stress can be very overwhelming and is more amplified if you don’t get enough sleep. This can also cause loud snoring that may affect your partner’s sleep. With that in mind, it’s best to find snoring remedies as soon as possible. You learn to deal with stress and also get on top of your cardiovascular health with just getting the right amount of snooze time. This means that having more hours of sleep is equivalent to a happy pill.
- Clears up your mind. Daily life can take its toll on the body. There’s too much information and workload and your brain needs to unload every night. If you skip sleep and stay up for long hours catching up on your favorite movie or TV series, then you will wake up the next day with all that clutter from the day before still lodged in your brain. Studies show that sleeping can actually help you take out the trash that accumulates in your brain, such as harmful toxins that clog your central nervous system. This is precisely why you wake up refreshed and more energized when you have slept soundly the entire night.
- Aids in decision-making. You are faced with tons of decisions to make everyday. This starts with what to cook for breakfast or what shoes would match your outfit. Your day might end with deciding whether to watch your favorite late night show or go to bed early. Sleep helps you make well-informed decisions because you have clarity in your choices and the circumstances that surround it.
- Spurs creativity. Your brain is more organized when you have had a good night sleep. The best creativity comes out of a well rested mind.
No more depriving yourself of sleep!
Researchers at Boston College and Harvard University have established that sleep enhances the emotional facets of the brain which helps promote creativity.
- Promotes learning. Kids who sleep better are more intellectually or mentally adept for school. Sleep problems, or not being able to rest well, at night gravely deters learning and attention. This leads to cognitive impairment and will usually reflect on their school performance.
This also applies to workers who would often sacrifice sleep just to get the work done. You cut back on sleep just to beat deadlines, without noticing that this could be detrimental to your productivity at work. Remember: you can learn faster and efficiently when you are well-rested.
- Improves attention span. Kids who lack sleep are more likely inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive. Kids react differently from adults when they are sleepy. With that in mind, kids would certainly not be able to focus on their lessons, or your instructions, when they are sleepy.
Frequent sleepiness is said to be underrated, but this can lead to serious cognitive decline. Even when you have a lot on your plate, the key is to find that right balance where you can get enough sleep in order to achieve optimal brain health.