Get Your Rest! Four Ways Your Brain Loses Function When You Don’t Sleep

Many of us have been there…lying awake in bed. Tossing and turning due to whatever’s ailing us mentally, physically, or emotionally at the time. Unable to relax and get some much-needed rest after a long day of work. The thing is, no matter what happens to us in our daily lives, our nightly lives require sleep. Just as we need food to eat and water to drink regularly, it is imperative that we all get the sleep we need on a nightly basis, for our very minds will crumble if we do not. 

So, what happens to the brain when it doesn’t get the rest it needs in order to function properly for the day ahead? 

You get tired…

Thanks, Captain Obvious! Who would’ve thought of that, right? However, this is the truth; when you do not give your body rest, it loses energy quickly. No amount of food or caffeine will ever replace a good night’s sleep (or even a nice nap at around 2pm, for that matter). Your eyes tend to be the first ones to run out of energy, becoming heavier and heavier as the day wears on. Then everything else about you starts to get tired. You yawn, you start to become unable to focus…every fiber of your being is telling you to go get some sleep.

Just as you should eat when you are legitimately hungry, drink when you are parched, and practice other good health and hygiene habits, you should listen to your body when it gives the necessary signals for rest.

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Your emotions get out of whack.

Similarly to the old Snickers commercials with the catchphrase, “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”, you are also not you when you’re sleepy. Think about it…how many times have you been more emotional than usual, and it was around the times when you also didn’t have enough rest and recharge time? We’ve all been there; we’ve snapped at loved ones and strangers alike when something just sets us off, because it always feels like we have a huge weight on our shoulders, and we’re too tired to bear it. We want people to give us a break, but life goes on, whether we have our rest or not. It feels incredibly unfair to those of us who did not get our proper rest. It makes us frustrated and much more easily irritated. 

This causes us to snap at the drop of a hat, cry about little things, and even feel more anxious and depressed than we would have if we’d gotten the necessary rest our bodies and minds require. Rest allows for proper repair work to be done on the mind and body, thus it is absolutely needed if we are to stay sane around ourselves and others. 

Poor decisions in, good decisions out. 

If your mind is weary from lack of rest, and your own emotions start getting out of whack, what do you think will happen to your own decision-making? Generally speaking, we are not able to think clearly as a species if we do not have our good night’s sleep. We are more likely to make rash decisions in order to try to solve our problems faster, but end up backfiring on us in the end. Studies have shown that gamblers who have not gotten the sleep they need often make riskier decisions that can destroy whatever progress was made previously, yet they also feel more optimistic that their rash decisions could lead to a better situation. Now, sometimes this has worked out for people in little ways, but obviously it is better to have a well-rested brain that is more capable of sound decision-making than of poor decision-making. In short, better sleep means a better brain!

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Learning also heads downhill.

Even though it seems counter-intuitive at the time, getting one’s rest actually allows for better learning capability in addition to getting more work done. As previously established, the brain without sleep functions poorly in contrast with the well-rested brain. Emotions are off, poor decisions are more likely to be made, and as seen in students and round-the-clock workers, learning and getting things done also falters without proper rest. The brain is not just doing repair work when it enters the resting period; it is also allows the hippocampus to efficiently store memories and reset for the following day. The hippocampus is in charge of the memory banks, and allows for students and life-long learners alike to memorize important concepts. It also is in charge of moving certain memories to other parts of the brain. 

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That being said, for those who think they have to cram and pull all-nighters in order to get more work done in their day–stop! Find a (literal) save point! Get your rest! Don’t lose your memory and hard work due to lack of rest. Your brain needs rest in order to properly function. 

These are just four of the more noted ways in which the human brain suffers when not given proper rest. Once again, sleep is as necessary as eating, drinking, and having good hygiene. Rest is required and essential for the repair process of the mind and body, and must occur regularly in order for the mind to stay as healthy as possible. Do not sacrifice your rest for getting more work done. Put in a full day, and sleep when you are tired. If you find you can’t stay asleep, or have trouble falling asleep, start by putting away your technology for the evening, and practice winding down. Read a physical book. Take a nice, relaxing bath. Have a cup of your favorite tea or warm milk. Sleep next to someone you love. 

Rest is without a shadow of a doubt essential for the human brain and its proper function. A brain without rest is a brain that will very quickly lose important functions necessary even for survival. Give yourself the gift of a regular night’s rest. For more tips on how to get the rest you need, contact us today.

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