Sleep’s Effect on the Brain’s Performance

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When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy to neglect your sleep because of the different items you want to get done on your checklist each day. Whether you stay up late responding to emails or cut your sleep short to exercise in the morning, insufficient sleep can start to have a negative effect on the brain. There are a few main ways your sleep can affect your brain's performance each day.

A Slower Reaction Time

When your brain doesn't have time to rest and become overworked, it can cause you to feel drunk and have a lack of mental clarity. It can slow down your ability to think quickly, as well as your reaction time. You may have difficulty trying to stay awake and become more alert, which can affect how well you make decisions. You may find yourself taking more risks than normal.

If you have a slower reaction time, it can affect your ability to drive safely. You may also start to suffer from more accidents at home and in the workplace because you can't catch your mistakes as quickly

Poor Memory

Studies also show that memory and sleep are closely linked, which means it can be difficult to recall certain details or facts if you fail to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. NREM and REM sleep are necessary for remembering a sequence of steps or basic facts to improve your efficiency and ability to perform different tasks. In particular, fragmented sleep can affect the memory even if you get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. 

Negative Health Effects

Those who are prone to suffering from migraines are at a higher risk of developing a headache if they don't get consistent, quality sleep. Poor sleep can also increase the risk of developing infections or weakening the immune system, making you more susceptible to catching colds. 

Studies show sleep deprivation also increases the risk of weight gain and diabetes. It affects the body's ability to release insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar levels. Your body also has more difficulty determining when it's full while eating, which can make it easy to consume more calories than you need throughout the day.

Adults who are sleep deprived are also at a higher risk of heart disease because of increased blood pressure and chemicals that can increase inflammation in the body.

Low Work or Academic Performance

If you fail to get enough sleep, it can start to affect your performance at work or school due to a lack of mental clarity. It can be more difficult to solve problems or have enough creativity. You may make more frequent mistakes that affect the quality of the work you produce and make you less reliable. If your work involves operating heavy machinery, it can increase your risk of getting into an accident. Your lack of sleep can even put your health and safety at risk if you don't drive as safely due to drowsiness.

It's important to visit a medical professional if you suffer from sleep apnea or other types of sleep disorders. Having a sleep study done is a great way to determine any issues causing you to not have a restful night's sleep. Many find that they are side sleepers who need a mattress that supports them in certain ways. They may also find that they have sleep apnea and need certain equipment to keep their airways open while sleeping. 

Long-term Implications

If the lack of sleep continues for several years, it can start to lead to long-term implications that are irreversible. Those who don't prioritize their sleep have a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Those who already suffer from cognitive issues can experience a mental decline at a faster rate.

There are many ways your sleep can affect the brain's performance and impact every area of your life. Scheduling your sleep and creating a restful, comfortable setting in the bedroom can make it easier to feel relaxed and recharged.