Let us understand the right connection between our ability to sleep well and the mental action of acquiring knowledge and improved understanding.
Importance of Sleep
Sleep is one of the most essential components of our daily life. It is indispensable to good health and as well for overall well being. Studies suggest that most adults need about 6-8 hours of quality sleep every single night. You are likely to be more active, productive and much happier all through the day, when you have had a good night’s sleep.
What Happens While We Sleep?
While we sleep, our body carries out several important functions. Some of these are-
- Building and restoring new cells and tissues
- Repairing the existing cells
- Producing essential hormones, and
- Removing toxins
Sleep and Cognitive Performance
There is little wonder to the fact that sleep not only promotes our physical health, but also improves our cognitive function.
Cognitive function refers to our ability to process thoughts, and perform various day to day activities associated with memory, learning, retention, language, perception, problem solving and decision making.
Surprisingly, our brain continues to be at work even while we are sleeping, and carries our several important tasks during those few precious hours of ‘shut-eye’. Sleep helps us in a number of ways. While our memories are stimulated, the correlation between the brain cells tends to reinforce, and the entire information is transmitted from short- term to long-term measure. However, without enough quality sleep, we can become all the more forgetful. Studies suggest that sleeping shortly after we learn new information also helps us to retain and recall that very information later.
Good Sleep and Its Benefits on Brain
- Sleep is known to recharge our brain power.
- It solidifies, retains and processes new information.
- It is believed that a relaxed sleep also strengthens neural connections.
During sleep, we shift through five different stages. The REM stage, said to be the state of deep sleep, is when our brain is stimulated in the region that is associated with learning. Therefore, it helps with learning and memory retention.
Sleep overall boosts creativity and allows us to synthesise new ideas. It improves problem-solving skills and enhances memory performance, of children as well as adults. It also feeds high-level, innovative thinking capabilities.
Sleep and universal Health Benefits
Besides improving our cognitive function, sleep also offers a variety of other benefits. These include –
- Improving stress levels.
- Boosting immunity
- Enhancing physical and emotional health
- Increasing energy
- Supporting overall growth and development
Adverse Effects of Sleeplessness on Our Brain
Sleep deprivation is becoming rather common and being taken all the more for granted these days. We tend to prioritise even the tiniest things in our lives, placing our need to sleep somewhere at the bottom of that list. However, we may not realise the far-reaching effects it may have, not just on our overall health, but especially on our brain function and cognitive performance, until it is too late.
We all agree that sleeplessness leads to slowed reflexes. Surprisingly, however, it may also affect our degree and accuracy of perception, short and long term memory, and several executive functions.
A lack of sleep affects the frontal lobe of our brain. This, in turn, affects our decision making, learning and retention capabilities. We are all the more likely to make impulsive decisions when we haven’t had a good sleep. Even our reflexes slow down, and we are not able to decide as quickly on as we need to on several occasions, such as escaping an accident, etc. Let us zoom in on this a little.
When we lose sleep, it becomes harder to concentrate and pay attention. Sleep deprivation slows down our reaction time, thus leading to increased likelihood of making mistakes and exposing ourselves to personal safety related risks. According to the stats, a significant percentage of road accidents each year are reportedly caused due to drowsy driving, that is driving in the state of sleeplessness.
Besides, it also increases anxiety, depression and the likelihood of other mental health problems. Chronic sleeplessness adds to your sleep debt, which you have to pay up sooner or later. Sleep debt refers to the difference between the amount of sleep you need, and the one that you actually get.
Surprisingly, it is not only sleeplessness but also excessive sleeping that could affect our cognitive performance. So if you have been avoiding sleep and allowing other things to take priority in your life, you need to make some immediate amends. Not just for the sake of good health, but a healthy cognitive function.
Are you concerned with your cognitive abilities being hampered by insufficient sleep or the ailment of sleeplessness? You may try SleepRite Shotz®, an effective sleep-inducing product from the house of Nutrite. This may initially be consumed as one bottle every day for a week’s time. And it could eventually help to activate and stabilize your sleep cycle.
Author: Dr Sonica Krishan
Dr Sonica Krishan is Author and Speaker in the areas of Healthy and Joyous Living through
Ayurveda, Meditation, Yoga and other Contemplative practices. She is a leading Ayurveda
Professional in India. She is also Health Writer, Columnist, Editor, Ayurveda Consultant and
Holistic Healing Coach.