Latest posts by Dr. Dan Jensen (see all)
- The New Science of Sleep - September 1, 2019
- The Future of Sleep Studies - September 1, 2019
- “Sleep Divorce”: Why Couples Might Get a Better Night’s Sleep in Separate Beds - September 1, 2019
Sleep is essential. No one can live without sleep, and not only does a good night’s sleep provide you with rest, and give you energy to face the day, it also supports brain health. Sleep is far more important than you might realize, and ignoring sleep is a bad idea. We often place sleep far down the list of priorities, and allow ourselves a minimum amount of time in bed. You may think an extra hour or two of wakefulness will increase productivity, but poor sleep has a major effect on your mood, energy levels, and health, and new studies are finding that sleep affects your cognitive abilities and memory.
Sleep and Memory
Poor sleep has a lot of negative side effects when it comes to brain health. One of the major risks of not sleeping well is problems with memory. Your brain needs sleep in order to process, catalogue, and store your memories. While you’re sleeping, your brain converts your short-term memories to long term memories so they’ll be there when you need to access them. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your brain isn’t able to process all your memories, so whether you’re trying to remember your friends birthday or something important at the office, if you haven’t slept well you’re far more likely to forget what’s happened during the day, and struggle to recall memories.
Sleep and Dementia
Fatigue and lack of sleep also play a huge role in mental health, and if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re more likely to suffer from mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder. Recent studies have found that sleep deprivation and insomnia also lead to a far higher risk of developing dementia. Even one sleepless night has been shown to cause of buildup of b-amyloid cells in the brain. These cells accumulate in the brain during the day, and during sleep are cleared away. During a sleepless night, these cells will accumulate even more, weakening brain function and making it more difficult for you to get through the next day. Both your cognitive and motor functions are affected, and these buildups in the brain can lead to dementia.
Getting Enough Sleep
Nobel and Spires-Jones, the researchers who published the study on sleep and dementia, stress that “the best advice for everyone is to do all we can to maintain a healthy life balance, sleep well, and engage with activities to keep the body and mind healthy.” Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to support their physical and mental health. If you have an occasional night of poor sleep, or lose a few hours of sleep to attend a social event, your body is able to bounce back in a few days. But if you are in the habit of sleeping far fewer hours, or have convinced yourself that you function very well with only 6 hours of sleep per night, you’ll be doing a lot of harm to your brain health.
Have you been struggling to sleep at night? Do you lay awake worrying for an hour before you fall asleep, or wake up repeatedly in the night unable to fall asleep again? Developing good sleep habits will help you fall asleep and stay asleep, and get the rest that you need. Keep a consistent bed time and wake up time, since this will train your circadian rhythm, or sleeping and waking cycle. You’ll feel drowsy at the same time every night, and you won’t have any trouble waking up in the morning. If you’ve been waking up a lot during the night, check the temperature of the room. It should be slightly colder during the night, so make sure you turn down the heat, or turn on a fan. Finally, keep electronics out of your room, and don’t watch TV just before bed. The blue light from the screen will inhibit the production of melatonin in your brain, and you’ll struggle to fall asleep.
Sound Sleep Medical
If you’ve been struggling to get a good night’s sleep, don’t risk your brain health! Visit us at Sound Sleep Medical to discuss your options, and learn more about ways to get a good night’s sleep. We’ll help you discover why you’re not sleeping, and provide you with the solutions you need to get a great night’s sleep every night.