We’ve all heard those people who brag about only needed 4 to 5 hours of sleep each night. They think that they’re somehow invincible; believing they require less sleep than other people do. Others are acutely aware of how badly they feel overall from lack of sleep. The reality is that you need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night to sustain the optimal functioning of your brain, overall health, well-being and daytime performance.
Here’s the facts:
Lack of sleep or waking up several times during the night may be bad for the brain and may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, several new studies suggest. While a sound night’s sleep has long been advised for a sound body, the new research adds to a growing body of evidence linking sleep to brain health.
The Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Douglas Moul said “Sleep is a time for brain maintenance and repair,” he said. “Studies have demonstrated that brain maintenance and repair time is more prominent during sleep.”
Studies have shown how the brain cleans itself while we sleep. The 2013 science study funded by The National Institute of Health revealed that the glymphatic system is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurological disorders.
Sleep loss dumbs you down. Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.
Sleeplessness can lead to depression. Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.
Sleep-focused interventions can improve treatment outcomes for veterans with PTSD and TBI. Sleep difficulty is a primary symptom of both PTSD and TBI and has been found to affect the severity of both conditions. TBI patients can suffer from permanent sleep problems regardless of the severity of their initial injury. Approximately 40 to 65 percent of individuals have insomnia after mild TBI, while patients with sleep difficulties are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can affect one’s overall health. According to WebMD, sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and more.
As the old Irish proverb says: A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
At the Brain Performance Center we take a more direct approach to getting a good night sleep. We use cognitive behavioral therapy to overcome the underlying cause of the sleep problem.