8 Ways Sleep Benefits the Brain (And Tips for Getting Enough Sleep)

Almost half of all Americans state that they feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days pers week.  In fact, scientists have carried extensive research on how sleep benefits the brain. And as results reveal, getting quality deep sleep every day plays a critical role in enhancing the functionality of the brain- in fact, without sleep, your brain cannot maintain the pathways that allow you to perform basic functions such as creating and retaining memories, concentrating on tasks, remove toxins from the body, and so on.  This all depends on the hours of sleep you get.

Unfortunately, most people take sleep and their sleep cycle for granted and therefore fail to get enough of it. And as studies show, chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of various health disorders, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, etc.

With the effects of denying yourself enough sleeping time so adverse, you do not need to study all night or scroll through social media into the late hours of the night. Needless to say, you will only end up compromising your brain functionality and messing up your sleep cycle.

That said, here are eight ways sleep benefits the brain and practical tips on how to make sure you get enough sleep at night, even if it is just a light sleep:

Helps solidify memory

A central function of sleep and the different stages of sleep is that it helps consolidate memory to help you record and hold details. This means without quality sleep, your brain cannot effectively focus and take in information, or store memories and connections made during the day. This explains why you are able to remember things after a good night’s sleep.

In addition to storing memories, the different stages of sleep allows the brain to prune back unwanted connections that are not worth keeping. In other words, you are sure to improve memory and retain the things you learn better only by allowing yourself enough sleeping time.

Improves cognition     

A lack of sleep can significantly affect cognitive capacities, including attention and decision-making skills. Sleep deprivation has also been proved to negatively affect working memory, which means you are likely to perform poorly in many behavioral tasks, and more so those that involve short–term memory.

Sleeping for the required amount of hours (not less than seven hours) can greatly boost performance in daily activities and increase your ability to multitask.

Enhances creativity

People who get enough sleep tend to realize better creativity, both in divergent thinking (thinking in new and imaginative ways) and convergent thinking (ability to figure things out). On the flip side, a lack of sufficient sleep diminishes creativity since it affects certain types of thoughts that support your ability to think outside the box.

Scientifically, for the brain functions, it needs rest to be able to consolidate memory and form a connection between old and new ideas, which creativity is all about. This means when you deprive yourself of sleep and the proper sleep environment, your brain cannot think creatively.

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Helps your brain clear out toxins

An amazing role of sleep is that your brain is busy clearing out toxins accumulated during the day. This happens when the lymphatic system opens up, and the space between cells expands to clear toxins through the cerebrospinal fluid. One example of these harmful toxins is the amyloid protein, which is associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

When your body and mind are clean, you are able to function optimally in various tasks. And you do not need much; just an extra hour or two of quality sleep per night is sure to remove a lot of toxins in the body, and in the process, help you be more healthy and productive.

Boost moods  

Another key function of the brain is to process emotions to help you react to situations the right way. When you get sufficient sleep every day, you tend to have more positive reactions and fewer negative ones. Ideally, your brain utilizes the role of sleep to rearrange and identify positive emotions while pushing away the negative feelings and experiences.

Moreover, a lack of enough sleep can lead to mood disorders. Studies have shown that people who don’t sleep well are prone to depression and anxiety, and other mental and psychological conditions which could cause you to take sleep medicine.

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Enhances physical health and longevity

There are numerous physical disorders linked to a lack of sufficient sleep, one of them being heart diseases: Sleeping allows your heart to rest since this is when your blood pressure is low. If your blood pressure stays up for long hours, you are at a greater risk of suffering heart diseases like stroke.

Sleeping is also a recipe for weight control because the body is able to regulate the hormones responsible for appetite (namely leptin and ghrelin) during rest without sleep disturbances. When these hormones are not in balance, you can easily be tempted to indulge in unhealthy foods, which ultimately leads to weight gain.

Ability to fight germs

The relationship between sleep and germs is real. Sleeping time is the best time for your immune system to identify harmful bacteria and viruses and consequently destroy them before they cause harm. However, when you don’t get enough sleep or have sleep loss, the functionality of your immune system is altered. This can put you at a higher risk of falling sick. Quality sleep can keep away the germs and reduce the likelihood of spending your time in hospital or bed recovering.

Boost athletic achievement

For athletes and people who perform physically demanding tasks, the importance of sleep and sleep patterns cannot be overstated. Each time you sleep per night, your brain releases hormones that promote muscle repair so that you are able to endure for longer. This way, you experience fewer mental and physical challenges, and in turn, boost your performance.

Tips for getting enough sleep

If you are one of the people who struggle with sleep, feel exhausted during the day, or lose sleep at night, these tips can help you sleep better:

  • Stick to a schedule — Wake and go to bed at the same time every day to avoid disrupting the system. Create an awesome sleep schedule you can follow. Failure to have a schedule often results in sleepless nights, inefficiency during the day, and lethargy.
  • Create a bedtime ritual — There are many activities you can partake in to prepare you for bed; for example, you can take a warm shower, meditate, or read a book. Create a sleep hygiene ritual that you can follow nightly.
  • Turn off electronics — Avoid using electronics at least an hour before bed. Exposure to direct light can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Change your bedding — Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable enough to keep away back and neck pains, which can affect your sleep. You want everything to provide you a restorative sleep and not insufficient sleep.
  • Check what you eat — Heavy meals are not ideal if you want to fall asleep faster. Also, steer clear of caffeine, chocolate, and caffeinated tea before bed.

The takeaway

For sure, the effects of sleep deprivation is not only bad for the body but also the brain and its functionality, not to mention our fertility. Checking your sleep pattern and particularly ensuring you sleep for not less than seven hours can go a long way in boosting brain efficiency. So, it is high time you begin to prioritize your sleep.

One effective way of achieving a good night’s sleep is to use a quality mattress, and No Bull is here to help you find a mattress that can ensure you sleep as comfortably as you desire. Contact us to learn more about our products.

Sources:
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wsu-sandbox/chapter/parts-of-the-brain-involved-with-memory/#:~:text=The%20main%20parts%20of%20the,as%20well%20as%20recognition%20memory

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/health/neurodegenerative/index.cfm

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