Lack of Sleep, Heap Of Problems: How Sleep Affects Your Brain, Mood & Body

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Sleep plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy and it’s essential for us to be able to function properly. Yet, Americans don’t get enough sleep and when they do, it’s not nearly as deep or beneficial as it needs to be.

Read on to learn why deep sleep is important and learn some ways to support a good night’s rest every day.

Why Is Deep Sleep Important?

Sleep is good for the brain.

Everyone knows sleep affects our brains, but a  2017 UCLA study helps exemplify just how this happens. 12 UCLA epileptic patients had electrodes implanted in their brains to pinpoint the origin of their seizures. Since a lack of sleep can provoke seizures, the patients stood awake all night to invoke seizure onset.

Throughout the night, participants were asked to categorize images as fast as they possibly could and the electrodes recorded their brain activity. The results were fascinating.

Not surprisingly, the patients had a harder time as they grew sleepier. Dr. Itzhak Fred, professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Tel Aviv University, says, “Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much.”

The results showed that lack of sleep interfered with a neuron’s ability to function properly, with specific decreases in:

  • Firing speed
  • Encoding information
  • Transferring visual input into conscious thought

In other words, lack of sleep can increase mental lapses and mistakes because of slower neuron activity. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation can lead to a heightened risk of depression, diabetes and even stroke as well.

Sleep is good for the body.

Constant sleep trouble can even lead to a risk of diabetes, heart disease and even high blood pressure. It might seem a little crazy, but sleep really matters! It plays an important role in keeping your central nervous system functioning properly.

While you sleep, your brain and body go into a sort of maintenance time, so when you don’t get that time to rest and recuperate, your brain and body don’t have time to gear up and prepare. Your immune system produces infection-fighting chemicals and your brain forms new pathways to store information, while you sleep. Sleep seems a little different now, right? You need to give your body time to relax and maintain itself.

Sleep affects mood.

Have you ever woken up in a bad mood? You try to get to bed earlier, but sleep doesn’t come. You try creating a soothing environment for relaxation with darkness, essential oils and even a sound machine, but your brain won’t buy it. Maybe you even turn off all electronics one hour before bed, but nothing seems to help? And…the bad mood cycle continues with every next night of bad sleep.

In 2017, the mobile app Sleep Cycle, analyzed sleeping reports from their users in 2017. What they found tells us a lot about US sleeping patterns, but it can also help us understand how to improve our moods.

For starters, American users on average slept at about 11:40 pm with a wake up time of 7:08 am, which is about 7 and 19 minutes. That is just 41 minutes shy of the recommended 8 hours.

While Americans slept for nearly eight hours, the average sleep quality compared to 2016 dropped by 10%! In addition, users reported that their wake up mood decreased by one percent from last year. This goes to show that the amount of hours you sleep doesn’t always correlate with a greater quality of sleep or a better mood when you wake up!

Even further, a better quality of sleep won’t always guarantee a better mood! The study found that millennials – who slept the most and had the best overall sleep quality – still reported waking up with the worst mood.

The reason? We don’t just need sleep, we need DEEP sleep.

Lack of sleep can impair your ability to function daily, including driving. 

When you don’t get enough shut eye, it can affect how you are able to function daily from concentrating on daily activites to driving,

It’s not safe to drive under the sleepy influence, but some people do it anyway.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety monitored more than 3,500 people in six different US locations between October 2010 and December 2013. They put cameras in vehicles as well as other equipment to gather their data. In 701 crashes, drowsiness was a factor in 8.8% to 9.5%! In crashes that resulted in significant property damage, airbag deployment, or injury, sleepiness was a 10.6% to 10.8% factor!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns that drowsiness is the last step before falling asleep. So, if you drive while drowsy, there is a chance you can fall asleep, risking the lives of you and others. (Read more about this here)

Back in 2012, the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that drowsy driving carried as much risk as drunk driving. Other studies have found that sleep deprivation can lead to poor hand-eye coordination. Performance can be equal to that of someone who has ingested alcohol or even worse!

So, just how does lack of sleep lead to drowsy driving? Beyond the obvious thought of “you’re tired and can’t keep your eyes open,” there’s actually a lot your body goes through when you’re not getting enough good, deep sleep.

Tips for Deeper Sleep

Now that you know why you should get deeper sleep, here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Lavender: This aromatic herb can work like magic in calming nerves and comes in a variety of form: essential oil, supplement, lotion, scented candle or freshly cut from the garden.
  • Stretch: Unwind with some bending and lengthening movements to increase blood oxygen levels and relax muscles.
  • Warm Bath (or shower): Two naturally calming elements, warmth and water, relax tense muscles and provide a moment of serenity after a long day.
  • Massage: Rub lavender lotion or oil on your shoulders or neck, and massage away the stress knots.
  • Routine: Doing the same thing, every night before bed helps to create balance, which gives a healthy peace of mind.

Natural Support: Load up on sleep-supporting Purium products. 

Sweet dreams!

Support and research for this blog can be found here.

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