It is a well-known fact that our bodies need sleep to function properly. There is a myriad of studies and research undertaken that shows how vital this function is. Without sleep, simple tasks become difficult and our overall mental performance declines. In this article, we look at the exact way that sleep affects our brain, and what we can do to combat these effects.
The negative impact a lack of sleep has on our bodies
The human body has to rest. There is no de facto magical figure, but it is generally believed that 8 hours of sleep per day is adequate. Sleeping for 8 hours allows your body to rejuvenate. Moreover, your mind can rest, and minor cell damage is repaired.
If you don’t get sufficient sleep, your body cannot perform these vital functions. Moreover, the following are four different ways that your mental performance is affected without proper sleep:
Your brain struggles to focus
If you have had a broken sleep, have you ever noticed that you struggle to focus and concentrate? This is because sleep refreshes your brain and allows it to repair. The longer you go without sleep, the harder you will find it to focus. As time progresses, your brain becomes lethargic. Simple functions such as focusing on revision, or concentrating on a round of Counterstrike will be increasingly difficult.
Having a fantastic, full night’s sleep will invigorate your brain. Additionally, it will provide it with much-needed energy. This will allow you to concentrate and focus for longer periods of time.
Your mental reaction times become slower
Your brain is responsible for reaction times. The human nervous system works on impulses sent from our brain. Signals are sent to our muscles and joints to cause movement. Moreover, mental signals are sent to cause reactions such as train of thought, speech, and decision making processes.
A lack of sleep means that your brain is put under increased pressure. Moreover, it does not have time to rest. This causes our reaction times to suffer. When playing a game on the Xbox for example, you may not be able to process information as quickly. Your control and movement speeds may be slower and your overall reactions will be much slower.
Creativity and innovation are harder to find
Did you know that sleep actually feeds your brain’s creativity and innovation? During sleep, we dream – our mind wanders and we think of wonderful new things. This combined with rest greatly boosts your creativity.
Without consistent sleep, you may struggle to find that higher level of thinking. New ideas, imagination and breakthrough moments may be hard to come by. In effect, your brain may simply operate in standby mode and fail to reach its full potential.
Your memory may decline
Sleep provides another vital function. Whilst we slumber, our brain actually transfers both long term and short term information. In addition to this, brain cell connections are reinforced and dormant memories are activated.
These processes combined together improve both our memory capacity and ability to remember information. If you do not gain a solid sleep, your brain cannot perform these memory-boosting processes. This is why after a rough night’s sleep you may struggle to recall events from the previous day for example.
What can you do to ensure your mental performance is at its peak?
As you can see, sleep is hugely important for mental performance. Your brain needs sleep to revitalize itself. Without sleep, your body and brain will miss out on important processes that allow you to function during the daytime. So what can you do to boost your mental performance and ensure your brain is operating at optimum levels?
Try to sleep for a minimum of 8 hours during the night
First, and most importantly, you should make sleep a priority. We understand that it is tempting to stay up late. Maybe you want to play Fortnite with your friends or watch a new TV show on Netflix. This is fine, but you should know your limits and try to sleep for 8 hours per day.
The key is to set yourself a designated bedtime. Let’s say you aim to be in bed for 22:00 each night. This will give you consistency and a routine. Your body will adjust to this and you will ease into a regular sleep pattern.
Refrain from using smartphones or tablets before you go to sleep
If you think that scrolling through Instagram or Twitter before bed helps you sleep, you couldn’t be more wrong! Did you know that smartphones and tablets can actually help prevent sleep?
The screens of these devices have a certain blue light wavelength. When exposed to this blue light, our brains can become confused. They are tricked into thinking it is daytime and therefore we find it harder to get to sleep. You should refrain from using your smartphone or tablet for at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
Imbibe your brain with natural goodness from focus energy drinks
During the day, you can actually give your brain a boost. Natural energy drinks without caffeine can actually stimulate your brain and improve mental performance. This can help you get through rough patches and still perform at your peak when required. It is important that you do not drink caffeine towards the end of the night to avoid affecting your sleep.
Hopefully, you now have a renewed appreciation of the importance of sleep. Whilst it is tempting to stay up until the early hours of the morning, chatting with your friends or playing on Xbox Live; your mental performance will suffer as a result. If you want to remain fresh and alert, ensure that you get a good nights sleep!