How a Single Night of Lost Sleep can Age Your Brain Significantly, Plus 6 Ways To Sleep Better
If you are eating right, exercising, and cleansing your body and mind of the numerous environmental toxins we are exposed to every day, you may still be missing a huge component of overall health – sleep. Quality is more important than quantity in a new study, and just three years of poor sleep can cause someone to lose significant cognitive functioning, as much as someone with a serious brain disease like dementia or the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. In fact, one bad night of sleep can cause your brain to age significantly, reflecting the loss of mental clarity that often accompanies advanced age.
While the study was looking at sleep decline in older populations as part of mental decline, it affects us all, no matter our age. Lead author, Terri Blackwell, MA, and senior statistician at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) in San Francisco, California said:
“It was the quality of sleep that predicted future cognitive decline in this study, not the quantity.”
Want to keep your brain healthy? Then you need a good night’s sleep. Here are 6 ways to make sure that happens:
- 1. Get rid of the noise – A quiet room is essential to good sleep. Even small noises can interrupt the healthy sleep cycle and cause you to wake many times before your body has a chance to cycle through all stages of sleep.
- 2. Darken the room – You shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face when you go to sleep – that’s how dark the room should be. In many traditions, dark rooms or caves were used to reset the hormonal system and allow the brain via the pineal gland to produce more Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and tryptophan – an amino acid your body needs.
- 3. Make sure the room is cool enough – Sleeping in the right temperature ensures that you don’t toss and turn from temperature fluctuations as your body tries to cool itself or warm itself up due to an uncomfortable ambient room temperature.
- 4. Clean out the clutter where you sleep – Sleeping in a messy room can cause your brain to feel cluttered too, causing you to have a difficult time falling asleep. If you leave office papers or yesterday’s take-out near your bed, this won’t support healthful sleep.
- 5. Make sure there is plenty of fresh air – Stagnant and polluted air can cause sleep interruptions, and certainly impairs the repair mode your body enters into when sleeping. In fact, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health have established the first link between air pollution and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).
- 6. Put your cell phone in another room – Many studies have linked cell phone radiation to poor sleep. Try putting your phone as far away from your bed as possible, or even in another room. Even better – turn it off for the night, and you’ll sleep more soundly.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.