Everyone knows a lack of sleep can lead to a multitude of health problems. New research suggests that a chronic lack of sleep may even do lasting damage to our brains.
Swedish researchers studied the effects a single night of total sleep deprivation had on the brain. Their research, conducted with fifteen healthy young men, revealed that after a single night of total sleep loss, blood concentration in brain cells rose by 20 percent, to levels that can signify neural damage. They also found a link between sleep deprivation and PTSD in Gulf War veterans.
“A recent study of Gulf War veterans found a link between poor sleep quality and reduction in brain tissue volume. Deterioration of brain tissue occurred in widespread areas across the brain, including the brain’s frontal lobe. Researchers established that this link between diminished brain tissue volume and poor sleep existed independent of soldiers’ exposure to other risks to brain health, including trauma and physical and mental illnesses including PTSD.”
According to Medical News Today, lead investigator Christian Benedict says:
He goes on to say, “A new study suggests that reduced sleep and poor sleep quality may be linked to increased buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of older adults—a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. This is according to a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology.” As a result of this, he says:
This and That
While conducting our own research on how to avoid sleep deprivation, we came across a fantastic list we’d like to share with you! Howstuffworks.com has provided the following ideas on obtaining a better night’s sleep to avoid damage to your brain!
- Limit or eliminate caffeine: Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as twelve hours. If you can’t eliminate caffeine in your diet, at least decrease your total intake, and certainly avoid all caffeine, including “decaffeinated” coffee or tea, after noon.
- Exercise: The body may not be fully ready to rest until it has expended its daily energy. A regular exercise routine is essential for those with sleeping problems. If you typically exercise in the evening and have trouble sleeping, move your workout to the morning.
- Routine: Do the same thing while getting ready for bed each night. Read for a bit in a chair or in a certain room, pray, or shower/bathe. Doing the same thing every night will send a signal to your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep.
- Breathe: Practice breathing exercises.
- The bed is for sleep: Know the role of your bed. Avoid reading, watching television, or talking on the phone. Make sure you use your bed for its intended purposes.
- Comfort: Be certain that the bed and pillows are comfortable. If you have experienced better sleep at friends’ houses or hotels, find out what type of mattress and pillows prompted such a pleasant night.
- Noise: Make sure your bedroom is quiet and free of any stimulating sound. Try a sound machine if you require consistent, soothing background noise.
- Nutrition: Sound, balanced nutrition will prevent health-related symptoms from occurring at night. For example, those with fluctuations in blood sugar during the day can suffer from pain and sleep disturbance at night. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Manage stress: Stress can wreak havoc on sleep. Set guidelines for stress management, incorporating journaling, breathing, or yoga into your daily routine. Poor sleep and stress go hand in hand, and their management strategies therefore overlap.
- Melatonin: The brain’s sleep hormone can be used as a supplement to improve rest. It works best for those suffering from broken sleep, and is only useful if there is a body deficiency of melatonin. Start with ½ to 1 mg at bedtime. If needed, gradually increase the dose up to 10 mg. After four to six weeks of good sleep, try to back down on the dose.
- Chamomile: This relaxing herb can be very beneficial to those having difficulty falling asleep. Enjoy one or two cups in herbal tea form as part of your bedtime routine.
I believe as adults, we all regret the naps we gave up as kids! We spend most of our day(s) going at full speed! I know when the end of the day comes, I can’t wait to crawl into bed and relax on that wonderful mattress!
Find a bed that makes you feel good,