Why is sleep Important for the brain? & What are the benefits?
The burden of Gradually losing Doze
Importance of sleep and the 6 SCIENCE-BASED RULES TO SLEEP WELL & Wake up feeling great!
Although I call this an essay, this reaches far beyond the essentials for kids, and for students.
We’ve all been there, half-opened eyes attempting to following the lines of a morning publication, you sigh and go through the usual routine. We’re all well aware of the importance of sleep and its benefit for the brain and its impact on our body.
Today is slightly different, the day demands that you stay awake for 16 hours because you’ve got things to pick up, assignments to complete and friends to see. Besides you want to accomplish everything.
And when you finally begin, you proceed to work yourself into a frenzy.
The thing is, this half-awake feeling is a result of an eventual accumulation of losing rest over several consecutive nights.
Every morning you promise yourself that you’ll catch up on zizz that night but 12 hours later you break it.
As I say, we’re all ‘sort of familiar’ when it comes to the health benefits (physical, psychological or emotional) of getting enough rest. Some of us have even downloaded apps on our phones to help us get more slumber but we hardly get any of them running long enough to experience real progress and eventually sequential nights of long refreshing rest. Invariably, we’re totally drained and exhausted when we do eventually get to bed.
Did you know the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos, is a twin to the Greek god of death, Thanatos, not many do, Interesting ah?
You’re not the only one in this though. Half of the world’s population is laden with this burden; lack of slumber.
It’s shocking because most people are aware that they need adequate slumber. If you ask, 9 out of 10 would most likely say you need 8 hours of rest and Science concurs too. So, why don’t you get enough?
What is good sleep? & Why is it important to rest for 8 hours?
Regardless of every scientific research and theory available, slumber is one big mystery. There are many things we know about it, yet, there’s still much we don’t know. We feel better, stronger and have lighter moods when we get enough rest. But we are still oblivious to the reason for rest. All we have are theories without proof.
Sleep disorders that exist number about 75 but the one we have the greatest control over is Sleep Deprivation. Instead of dealing with it as a society, we exalt our achievements and use them as compensation for losing it.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
Researchers have studied the effects linked to a lack of rest on animals. A study were rats were kept awake for two weeks straight, this resulted in their deaths. This is enough proof and a great pointer to the harm we humans expose ourselves to when we lose it.
The top 3 effects of staying awake at night or not getting enough doze are fatigue, lack of attention and bad moods. Our blood pressure begins to increase within the first 24 hours of losing our slumber. Thereafter comes a drop in our body temperature followed by a weakening of our immune system. Next thing you know, you begin to hallucinate!
We think and act irrationally when we don’t get enough sleep. It clouds our judgment, reduces our ability to learn and retain information, distorts our ability to make quick decisions and situational awareness.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
When a person doesn’t get enough for prolonged periods of time, they are more prone to cardiac diseases, brain stroke and metabolic diseases like diabetes. Their chances of depression, anxiety, distress, and anger increase.
Sleep and Wellness Survey Reports in the UK in 2016
The Great British Survey offers up some interesting findings, 63.1% of the UK population are not satisfied with how much sleep they get. Those who reported always waking up rejuvenated were only 8%. People who lack sleep are seven times more prone to feelings of helplessness in challenging situations.
Even obesity has also been linked to a lack of deep restfulness because of the progressed production of Ghrelin; the hunger hormone. Also reduced leptin and energy levels result in increased food consumption, especially “comfort foods.”
Mayo clinic discovered that there is a 73% chance of gaining excess weight for those sleeping less than 4 hours at night. In a 2015 study by Berkeley, every hour of sleep lost is equivalent to a 2.1-point increase in body mass index (BMI).
Importance of sleep quotes
A sleeping specialist quoted, “There is an inverse relationship between sleep and stress; stress increases with less sleep and increased stress makes it more difficult to sleep.”
What’s a good Bedtime routine?
A health study was done by The University of California that you process emotional stress with the help of dreams which occur in the final stage of unconsciousness, the REM state. Increased stress hormone- cortisol- is distributed in your body when we lack sleep and it disrupts REM state.
Our Genes can be affected also, a study by Surrey University found that 700 genes changed when we are deprived of sleep. After a week of sleep deprivation, there is an increased activity of genes that control inflammation.
The Science of Sleep deprivation
Scientists have stated that prolonged lack of rest disrupts brain function. This means that your brain stops working well! Shrinking of the brain is the most dangerous effect of lack of sleep and if it becomes habitual, your brain cells begin to die.
Studies on the brain have shown that the amygdala- the emotional center of the brain- becomes hyperactive when you get less than 6 hours of sleep at night. In turn, the cortical centers responsible for executive thinking become less active. This means you react more than you think!
In reality, our brains and nervous systems are very active during sleep. they do not rest. One of the amazing benefits of sleeping for the brain is the washing out of toxins.
In 2015 it was discovered that our brains have drainage systems, this was discovered in 2015; the lymphatic system which washes away the toxins that build up in our brains during the day- the amyloid-beta (Aβ) proteins. These are the same proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease which causes total memory loss!. Scientists have found these amyloid-beta (Aβ) proteins abundantly in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Bad Habits – Importance of Sleep
Here’s an even bigger discovery: when we sleep, the glymphatic system busies itself at a 60% rate to flush out those toxins. Therefore, the less sleep you get, the closer you get to Alzheimer’s!
Lack of sleep pushes you to fall into short naps known as “microsleep” while engaging in other activities. Microsleep is also linked to fatal road accidents. About 1.2 million car crashes are caused by sleepy drivers yearly in the US.
How to Overcome Sleep Deprivation
Can you tell how much sleep you get? The American Association of Sleep Medicine’s sleep diary is available for download here: Sleep Diary (PDF). Use it to ascertain the amount of sleep you get these days.
Sleep researchers have told us that for every two hours we stay awake, we need an hour of sleep. The following sleep guidelines are recommended for adults by the National Sleep Foundation:
- 7-9 hours for young adults
- 7-8 hours for older adults.
If there is a huge gap between the hours you sleep and the hours you need to sleep, now is the time to act!
6 Tips on How to Sleep Deeper and Better.
Sleep scientists have given six of the most effective ways to sleep deeply every day. They term it “sleep hygiene”- good sleeping habits. Note, however, that these are not magic pills. These habits have to be applied for 3-5 weeks to see significant results.
1. Create a schedule for sleep.
- Try to sleep at the same time every night including the weekends. Try to wake up at the same time in the morning every morning too. Your circadian rhythm- your natural sleep-wake cycle- will be fortified. Our sleep quality is also improved by consistent sleeping times.
- Set a calm sleep-time tune on your phone for a change in place of the wake-up alarm. Let it help you keep in mind that bedtime is close. When the sleep-time alarm rings, dim the lights.
- It is much easier to sleep early than you think. Pen down your time of sleep on a piece of paper and paste it in a conspicuous place. for example, bedtime is 11 pm. Time to get up is 7 am.
2. Take naps every day.
- During the day, take a nap or your siesta. The brain’s creativity, intuition, imagination and ability to solve problems increases when it rests. Siesta & Go, a nap bar in Madrid was opened recently where people could walk in and lie on a bed for a nap.
- The amount of learning you can do after a nap equals the same after a complete night’s rest.
- Naps reduce tiredness and stress. Allegheny College of Pennsylvania conducted a study on 85 college students who were healthy and results showed that those who napped daily for 45-60 minutes had lowered blood pressure, heart rates, and better anxiety control.
- A study by NASA on 747 pilots revealed that those who napped for 26minutes daily made lesser errors at a 34% rate and were more alert at work.
- An interesting study by Berkeley revealed that when a nap includes the REM phase, there is increased receptivity to facial expressions of happiness.
- Sleep deprivation should not be compensated with daytime naps.
3. Stay Away from Stimulants.
- Stay away from coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate or cigarettes at least 4 hours before you sleep. it takes 6 hours for caffeine’s effect to wear off.
- Associate professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and sleep scientist, Patrick M. Fuller takes his own advice of avoiding all stimulants afternoon.
- Try your best to stop smoking for your health’s sake and your genes and not for sleep alone.
- Stop alcohol intake in the evenings. Alcohol suppresses the nervous system and makes you drowsy. Our sympathetic nervous system is activated immediately when the alcohol in the blood drops and you wake up from the dream phase feeling unsteady.
- After dropping all stimulants, if it’s still difficult to sleep, try a relaxation program like Sleep meditation.
4. Exercise every day.
- Exercise vastly improves sleep quality. Form a habit of exercising daily for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. if it’s hard to form the habit, read this guide.
- Don’t forget to plan your workouts before evening. Night sleep quality and quantity by improving morning and afternoon workouts.
- Start with going for a 12-minute walk in the morning. A study done in 2010 shows that those who did morning exercises burnt more fat and gained little or no weight.
- Avoid heavy workouts within 4 hours of bedtime. Light workout like walking or yoga is okay.
5. Bedtime routines.
- It’s not easy to form new habits but there’s a remedy; create routines. Certain habits done at the end of the day prepares you to doze well.
- Dinner should be light and eaten 3hours before bedtime to afford the digestive system time to work. Know too that going to bed hungry won’t help you sleep.
- After dinner, engage in small activities and postpone every heavy week to the next day. You could read a book, hardcover, precisely.
- Avoid any blue-light-emitting device like laptops and phones 2 hours before bedtime. Blue-light suppresses the release of sleep hormone; melatonin.
- Have a warm bath and dim the lights an hour before bed to stimulate melatonin secretion.
- Turn off all digital devices 3o minutes before you zizz.
6. Bedroom Habits.
- De-clutter your bedroom and keep pets out, as they interrupt.
- Keep your phones and laptops elsewhere. Keep away TVs for maximum results.
- A US poll held in 2012 shows that sleep is enhanced by fresh-smelling sheets and mattresses; don’t eat or drink in bed.
- Keep the sheets and pillow-cases neat by changing them weekly. Experts suggest a replacement of mattress every 8 years after 20,761 lying hours.
- Close to bedtime, turn off bright lights and block out harsh noises too; earplugs or white noise helps.
- The room temperature should be comfortable.
- If you lay awake for more than 20 minutes, therapists suggest you get and do any simple thing like reading a boring textbook till you start feeling drowsy then, quickly get back to bed.
- Create a schedule
- Take naps every day
- Stay away from stimulants
- Exercise everyday
- Pre-sleep routines
- Bedroom habits.
Since the invention of the light bulb was invented 140 years ago, work time has been extended and hasn’t let the world rest. we started cheating our body clock because of electric lights and even started to skip sleep entirely.
Allocated times for sleep has to be committed to in order to obtain sufficient deep sleep. Good drowse at night can make you feel great and resourceful, and keep you happy and positive. Being a night person or an early riser doesn’t change the fact good doze is healthy.
Serve yourself what you’ve been lacking- 8 hours of beauty siesta daily! Remember that author of 1932 novel- Brave New World- Aldous Huxley said that we are not in worse health condition than we already are because of the blessedness of drowse.