Make This The Year You Own Your Sleeping Regime.
Think you can get by on just a little sleep? Think again.
Sleep can be a miracle cure for your brain and body. It has been proven to maintain cognitive function, promote healing and help your executive function to perform at its best.
A lack of sleep, on the other hand, can cause, amongst many things, a lapse in cognition. Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition by William D.S.Killgore, highlights the extent to which sleep deprivation can affect the brain. He explains that many factors may be involved with the brain’s response to a lack of sleep, “including the magnitude of global decline in general alertness and attention, the degree to which the specific cognitive function depends on emotion-processing networks and the extent to which that cognitive process can draw upon associated cortical regions for compensatory support.”
In this article we’ll delve into the science-fuelled details of why getting quality sleep is critical. We’ll also provide you with some sleep insights which’ll enable you to boot sleep deprivation into the land of nod.
Next stop: being the best at sleeping (and therefore everything else) in 2020.
Some fast facts on sleep deprivation from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Humans are the only mammal that willingly delay sleep.
- Separated or divorced people report more insomnia.
- The body never adjusts to shift work.
- 90 million American adults have their sleep disturbed by snoring.
- Sleep deprivation can cause people to have larger appetites because of a drop in their leptin levels (an appetite-regulating hormone), resulting in an increased appetite.
Get some sleep before a trip to the dentist or rugby game
A new 2019 sleep deprivation study by Adam J. Krause, found that the brain’s response to pain can be tweaked when a lack of sleep is involved:
“We show that sleep deprivation enhances pain responsivity within the primary sensing regions of the brain’s cortex, yet blunts activity in other regions that modulate pain processing, the striatum and insula… Consistent with this altered neural signature, we further show that sleep deprivation expands the temperature range for classifying a stimulus as painful, specifically through a lowering of pain thresholds.”
Getting enough sleep before heading to the dentist, playing a game of rugby or even wearing a pair of shoes that rub, can increase your pain threshold. So you can chew, play and walk tougher.
Get some sleep by changing your lightbulbs
Lightbulb moment alert.
By changing the type of light bulb you use in your house, you can positively boost your sleep. Charles A. Czeisler and Bronwyn Fryer’s recent study Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, shines a light on why and how lighting can impact your sleep.
Humans are hyper-sensitive to light and also the colour of light. They found that “exposure to shorter wavelength blue light is particularly effective in suppressing melatonin production, thereby allowing us to stay awake during our biological night.” Those are the sorts of glaring lights you get in the office, on the train, on the bus, in a big retail shop or in a hospital. This sort of light tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, even when you’re unwinding for bed. Your melatonin production, which plays a big role in sleep and feeling sleepy, by regulating the sleep-wake cycle, is halted in its tracks. Which means you’ll struggle to get to sleep naturally.
Interestingly scientists Czeisler and Fryer note that a natural and effective way to reset your body clock is to do the following:
“Looking up at the blue sky, for example, is more effective in both resetting our biological clock and enhancing our alertness.”
Tricky if you live somewhere like the UK, where blue skies can be few and far between. Kick the blue lights and get back to nature.
Get some sleep by not working (too many) night shifts
Stress can directly impact sleep. The more stressed you are, the more your sleep can be jeopardised. And unfortunately, night shifts can negatively impact your body’s stress response. Chris Woolston, M.S. discusses the impact night shift work has on stress and sleep:
“If you don’t get enough deep sleep, you’re missing a chance to take a break from stress. Losing sleep might even send your levels of stress hormones in the wrong direction. Although research has been mixed so far, one study published in 1997 in the journal Sleep found that sleep deprivation boosted stress hormones the next evening.” He goes onto mention: “As reported in Medscape Neurology and Neurosurgery, people who work night shifts are especially prone to stress, both on and off the job. Not surprisingly, they’re also vulnerable to a wide range of stress-related conditions, including depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach problems, weakened immune systems and infertility.”
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about working night shifts. It may just be a part of your job. If this is the case, then ensuring you care for and optimise your body and brain in other ways is essential. This should include:
Purifying your diet
For starters, reduce your sugar intake. Click here to find out more.
Training your brain
Peak’s brain training app has some fun and challenging science-backed games which can help give you a boost. Click here to find out all about our scientific collaborations.
If you’re longing to be the best at sleeping and beating sleep deprivation this year, now’s the time to take action. A lack of sleep can have short-term negative effects and some pretty bad long-term effects too. By taking care of your sleep quality today, you’ll be looking after your long-term health too.
Quick 5-step sleep guide:
- Change your lightbulbs to non-blue alternatives.
- Choose non-allergenic, quality bed sheets, duvet covers and pillows.
- Turn your bedroom into a screen-free environment 24/7.
- Stick to a consistent bedtime when possible.
- Explore the 90-minute sleep cycle. Click to find out more.
Brought to you by Peak, makers of the Peak – Brain Training and Peak Sleep – Sleep Better apps. Start brain training and sleeping well today: