Want to boost your brainpower? Get enough sleep! Whether you're a parent, working professional or student, feeling sluggish, tired and scatterbrained throughout the day seems to be the norm. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named sleep deprivation a public health epidemic in 2013. Everyone suffers from a lack of sleep from time to time, but chronic sleepless nights can wreak havoc on your memory, ability to focus, and keeps you from performing at your peak level.
How Does Sleep Affect the Brain?
Researchers have found that getting enough sleep helps process and retain information we've learned throughout the day. Scientists believe that as we sleep, skills and memories we've gained are shifted to more permanent brain regions, helping us retain more information in the long run. This occurs during rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM, which is the deep sleeping phase when dreams typically happen.
On the flip side, sleep specialists have found that without adequate sleep, neurons get overworked to the point that they can't properly coordinate information, making it difficult to access previously learned information. Lack of sleep affects the brain by making people less alert, which can impair things like concentration, complex thought and even the most basic types of logical reasoning. It also impairs your judgement, which could lead to major problems at work or even in your personal life.
If you don't get enough sleep, it even impairs your memory. The nerve connections required to recall memories or memorize information are strengthened through rest, so if you don't get enough rest, they are weakened and less efficient. This is why you feel scatterbrained and forgetful when you're only running on a few hours of sleep. It will also be much more difficult to learn new things, since you won't be able to commit them to memory.
How to Know if You're Getting Enough Sleep
So, how much sleep is enough?
General guidelines suggest adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. This is the average amount of sleep that thoroughly supports brain functions and strengthens the nerve connections required for thought, memory and reasoning.
Not only does getting enough sleep improve your mental function, it also supports other areas of the body and mind. Studies show that those who aren't getting enough sleep tend to feel anxious or depressed, so if you've been struggling with these feelings, your sleep schedule may be to blame. You can also gauge whether or not you're getting enough sleep by asking yourself if you've been sick more often than normal. Because sleep strengthens the immune system, it also helps you to fight off colds, viruses and other ailments.
Learning how much sleep you, personally, require is a trial-and-error type of question. If you get a solid 7 hours but still find yourself falling asleep in the board room or dozing off in front of the television, you may need to add an hour or two. If you sleep for 9 hours and wake feeling drowsy or disoriented, you may be able to cut back your sleep to 8 hours. Sleep is different for everyone, so it's important to learn what's best for you.
How to Improve Your Sleep Quality (and Improve Brain Function)
Falling asleep and staying asleep is difficult for many people, especially those who suffer from night sweats or hot flashes. If you frequently feel overheated and your bedding gets soaked with perspiration, it's nearly impossible to stay asleep for long enough to reach that deep stage of REM sleep.
To encourage hours of uninterrupted sleep, using performance sleep products from Cool-jams™ helps keep you cooler and drier. Our bedding is made from cool, natural Bamboo fibers or from our proprietary Outlast technology which helps maintain the climate under the covers to prevent uncomfortable overheating and sweating. Excess heat is absorbed by microcapsules as your body temperature rises, and releases them as your body cools. Either bedding option will result is a steady temperature throughout the night.
With our assortment of cooling sheets, pillows, mattress pads and more, you'll create the perfect sleeping environment that'll allow you to get the uninterrupted sleep your brain needs to stay sharp.