Insufficient Sleep Has Negative Consequences for the Health of Your Brain
Although we spend as much as one-third of our lives sleeping, scientists are still befuddled as to exactly why. Our need for sleep remains one of the most challenging questions for the field of neurobiology to eventually answer.
No doubt sleep serves several important functions, for both the body and the brain. Neuroscientists do know that sleep is critical to support higher cognitive processes such as learning and memory. The restorative function of sleep definitely renews the brain’s capacity to incorporate new information and to consolidate long-term memory, thereby incorporating new daily learning and experience with previous knowledge and experiences.
Insufficient sleep and periods of sleep deprivation have negative consequences for the health of the brain. The brains cells that destroy and digest wornout cells and debris go into overdrive in mice that are chronically sleep deprived. Researchers believe the same is true for the human brain.
While this might have some short-term benefits by cleaning potentially harmful debris and rebuilding worn neuronal circuitry, and thus protecting healthy brain connections, the long-term impact is likely to be dire. For one thing, a chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
Sleeping too little is also a recognized link to attention deficits. Some research results are supporting a call for a possible reinterpretation of ADHD as a sleep-related disorder. Attention and decision making are abilities that operate on a shared axis in the brain. Thus it is not too farfetched to hypothesize and expect that something that affects one, such as inadequate sleep, would also impact the other.
I will share in the next blog post some very interesting research from UCLA on how fatigue impacts the speed at which our brain cells communicate.
In the meantime, for more tips on improving the long-term health of your brain, see:
This article is partially excerpted from my award-winning book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association for bringing “a comprehensive plan of action for improving life through recognizing decision-making patterns that don’t serve us well, don’t enrich our lives, and don’t bring us to our goals and dreams.” It also received a Distinguished Favorite Award in the 2019 Independent Press Awards leadership category.