You’ve probably heard that getting enough sleep is important for your overall health. But did you know that getting enough sleep helps maintain healthy brain function?
The truth is, the amount of sleep we get each night affects our ability to think clearly and make decisions. Getting less than the recommended eight hours per night can also have an impact on our mood and memory. Learn some of the ways that a good night’s sleep can improve your cognitive abilities—and give you tips on how to get better rest at night!
Sleep affects the brain in many ways.
Sleep affects the brain in many ways. It can affect your ability to learn, remember and make decisions. Sleep also has an impact on health and mood, as well as stress levels. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can negatively impact your ability to function effectively on a daily basis.
Getting quality shut-eye is important for healthy brain function
Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on mood. A good night’s sleep can help you feel more energetic and positive, while poor sleep can make you feel tired, irritable, and depressed.
Sleep also affects your ability to learn new information and remember what you learned. If you don’t get enough sleep before taking a test or studying for an exam, it will be harder for your brain to process the information as effectively.
This especially true when learning involves memory reinforcement through repetition. Even small amounts of fatigue-related forgetfulness may lead to gaps in knowledge that are difficult or impossible to fill later on without additional study time.
Length of sleep can impact your health
The amount of sleep you get each night can have an impact on your health. Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of health problems, including obesity and diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, depression or anxiety disorders. It may also increase the risk of death from all causes by around 50%.
There are many factors that affect how much sleep people need – age or gender are two examples – but in general adults need between seven and nine hours per night.
Impacts of insomnia and sleep apnea
Sleep problems, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, can rob people of the rest they need to be productive. Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk of car accidents and workplace injuries. People who don’t get enough sleep may also have trouble concentrating on tasks or remembering things.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which the muscles that control breathing become relaxed during sleep, causing people to stop breathing for short periods of time (usually 10 seconds or less). The sudden drop in oxygen levels causes your heart rate to speed up so you can breathe again–this is called an arousal from deep sleep.
A person with untreated severe obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) might experience hundreds of these arousals per hour while sleeping! Insomnia affects nearly 50 million American adults every year; about one third report having symptoms on most nights
Stress interferes with sleep quality
Stress and sleep are intimately connected. Stress can interfere with your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling rested. You may even experience nightmares or sleep apnea as a result of stress.
Stress is a normal part of daily life, but if you have too much of it–or not enough time for rest–then your health suffers in many ways:
Chronic stress can lead to insomnia and other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome (RLS). Insomnia is defined as having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least three times per week for more than three months in duration.
RLS occurs when small muscles around the hips cause an uncomfortable sensation that feels like crawling bugs under the skin. People with this condition struggle to fall asleep easily or stay asleep through the night without waking up several times during their slumbering hours.
Easy ways to improve sleep
Avoid naps in the afternoon. Napping can be a useful tool for helping you fall asleep at night, but it’s important to avoid napping during the day if you want to get good-quality sleep at night.
Exercise regularly. Exercise helps improve your overall health and well-being, which can help with getting better sleep at night!
And lastly, consider investing in a better quality mattress, and one that is designed for the way you sleep. Depending on whether you sleep on your stomach, side or back, you may prefer a softer or firmer mattress.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief exploration of how sleep affects brain function. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a complex topic with many different facets. We did not cover all of them here, but hopefully this has given you some insight into what goes on at night when we’re resting our heads on pillows and drifting off into dreamland.