The RAND research group has found the U.S. loses more than $411 billion per year, between poor performance at work, and completely lost work due to lack of sleep.
Here are some reasons why you need sleep, and how it helps your brain function properly.
As per a Harvard study, dreaming helps reactive and reorganize what you have learned recently. This in turn helps improve memory and improve performance as well. Several studies have confirmed that even a brief nap may help improve memory and learning.
During sleep, your brain works to consolidate long-term memory by strengthening neural connections. Your brain makes many connections during the day, but it checks all of them during sleep and streamlines the ones it really ‘needs’. Many people will confirm that they find it better to remember things when they ‘sleep over’ something.
It is also important to point out that sleep may also nail down negative memories. It means that when your brain consolidates negative memories during sleep, it will become difficult to suppress them later. Those bad memories will stick around, and play a role in depression and PTSD.
Some studies have confirmed that sleep helps clear toxins from your brain, especially those related to Alzheimer’s disease. It means that getting enough rest every night lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As per a study on mice, it happens because the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain goes up during sleep, which in turn helps wash away waste proteins.
The imaging results of the brains of mice have found that during the sleep, the glymphatic system becomes 10-times more active. Moreover, the brain cells shrink during sleep creating more interstitial space in the brain to facilitate the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. That increased flow is also responsible for clearing the toxins from your brain.
Anyone with sleep deprivation would tell you how it affects their cognitive capacities. Not getting enough rest will have an impact on everything from attention and cognition, to decision-making and more. Sleep deprivation has a direct impact on higher cortical function, which in turn will make multitasking difficult.
Driving, for instance, is an intensive multitasking activity because it uses your feet, hands, awareness of your surrounds, vision, and more. Experts say that you should not drive when you are sleep deprived, and that is mainly because your brain will not be in a position to multitask.
Researchers have also found that sleep deprivation can also affect cognitive functions, such as working memory and attention. In fact, a loss of a couple of hours of shut eye per night for a couple of weeks will have a negative effect on your performance on neurobehavioral tasks that involve short-term memory and attention.
Researchers have found that the function of sleep is essential for both creativity and learning. When you are not sleep deprived, you are likely to learn better and feel more creative. In fact, studies have found that if you learn something and then take a short nap, you are likely to memorize it better.
Your problem-solving abilities go up during sleep, which is why you are likely to find a more creative solution to a problem when you sleep over it. The restructuring of the brain connections that takes place during sleep, is the reason why it improves your creativity and problem-solving abilities. That is probably another reason why many people are at their creative best soon after waking up in the morning.
How creative you feel also depends on the duration of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, during which your brain waves take the form of the activity you have experienced during your waking state and, when this happens, your eyes move side to side while remaining closed. This is an intense dreaming stage, which helps with creativity and boosts your abstract problem solving skills.
To help solve a tricky problem, keep reminding yourself about it while going to sleep. This will stimulate your unconscious mind, and you are likely to find a solution to that problem when you wake up.
It also means you should pay attention to your dreams; in fact, keeping track of your dreams may actually inspire you for new creative projects.
Many studies have established a link between sleep deprivation and depression. The connection is quite vicious actually. When you are in depression, you will find it difficult to sleep. That sleep deprivation will go on to make your depression symptoms even worse. That is why you often need to take antidepressants to promote better sleep, and control your depression symptoms.
Sometimes, insomnia or lack of sleep is the result of another medical illness. Whatever the cause, the inability to sleep will make your depression worse. Interestingly, oversleeping may also be a sign of clinical depression. Some studies have confirmed that people who take less than six hours of sleep, or sleep more than eight hours a night, are likely to have depression.
Not many parents are aware of it, but sleep deprivation can hit young kids as well. In fact, you may notice the effects of sleep deprivation when your child gets one fewer hour for four nights.
Some studies have found that children who take fewer than ten hours of sleep a night before age 3, are three times more likely to have impulsivity and hyperactivity problems by age 6.
It is important to keep in mind though that if you feel that your child is distracted and impulsive, it does not mean they have ADHD. It might only be because they are tired. Nevertheless, it is vital that you do not rule out any sleep issues just yet.
Another interesting thing to learn is that rest is extremely important for your newborn baby. While they may look very peaceful while sleeping, there is so much happening underneath the serene surface. Researchers have found that newborns learn when they’re asleep. For instance:
It implies that adequate sleep is important to promote learning in kids of all ages.
It is worth mentioning that sleep deprivation is bad for kids, but it works differently in kids as compared to adults. A recent study has found sleep deprivation in kids affect the back regions of the brain, whereas the front regions of the brain are affected with sleep deprivation in adults.It certainly affects brain development in kids, and is therefore important to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep each day to stay healthy.
Along with affecting your mental health, sleep deprivation can also affect your physical health and longevity. Many disorders and diseases are linked to sleep deprivation. A recent study has confirmed that when you get an average of three hours of sleep in a day, it will have a negative impact on your cardiovascular system. There may be an increase in contractility of your heart, heart rate, blood pressure, and the stress hormone cortisol. Similarly, a lack of sleep is directly linked to obesity, which stems from poorer glucose control. Just keep in mind that just like sleep deprivation, getting more than nine hours of is also linked to health related problems. So, be sure to find a right balance to have a health mind and body!
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