Sleep Well for a Better Brain

Sleep Well for a Better Brain

Did you know how well you sleep affects how well you think? You might be surprised to know the average person sleeps 121 days per year. Yet, many people would categorize themselves as poor sleepers because healthy slumber means more than just going to sleep.  A lack of restorative rest has surprising repercussions like lower testosterone, poor immune function, brain atrophy, and weight gain. Additionally, those with diabetes have a higher risk of sleep disorders like Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep Apnea according to Diabetes Forecast.

Stanford biologist, Craig Heller, hypothesizes that deep sleep is necessary for brain cell generation. In fact, adenosine is a messenger that triggers the production of glycogen which is the brain’s only back-up energy when glucose is not present. Without restorative sleep, our brains may not get the fuel they need and you may not have the optimum cognitive function.

Additionally, sleeping for only a few hours a night brings on more than just fatigue. Fewer than six hours of total Z’s nightly contributes to weight gain according to Harvard University. Also, Dr. Jang Young Kim from Yonsei University proposes that metabolic syndrome can be a problem for poor sleepers. Less than five hours of sleep a night, and you are more likely to be diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

What keeps us awake?

Technology can reduce our production of melatonin. Caffeine may trick the body into thinking it does not need as much total sleep. The aging process itself can make getting enough sleep problematic.  In fact, sleep “fragmentation” or waking up frequently each night is more likely. Interrupted or restricted sleep produces the same results – depression, agitation, and poor productivity. Conditions like Sleep Apnea can develop too. So, what can you do?

Try these recommendations:

-Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine before bedtime

-Take quick 20-30 minute snoozes to improve performance and to have an alert mind according to the National Sleep Foundation

-Find supportive bedding and pillows to encourage comfortable sleep

-Have 30 minutes of technology-free time before bed or eliminate all gadgets from your slumber area

-Sleep by yourself without a partner or pets

-Consider darkening the room or using blackout shades

-Get enough daylight throughout your day to keep the body’s circadian rhythm in check

The bottom line is those who make sleep a priority function better and feel better. Restful and restorative sleep is better for your brain and body, so aim for at least 8 hours of slumber routinely.

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