Disruption of our sleep affects our brain, from disorders and poor habits and is likely the biggest health issue facing modern society, says Director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health in New Jersey, Carol Ash. She goes on to say that, “Sleep is a basic physiological need like water, food, and air, not getting enough of it can be lethal.”
What is The Science Behind Much Needed Sleep?
Believe it or not, the brain is as active during sleep as it is when we are awake. We have a circadian clock in our brain that controls our periods of sleepiness and wakefulness. Our body creates a sleep homeostasis, reminding our body to sleep and creating that drive to sleep so that we don’t overextend the time we are awake and in need of rest. Unfortunately, society today is pushing its boundaries onto sleep and is creating an environment of 24/7 activity.
How Much Sleep Should An Adult Get Per Night?
According to research, the amount of sleep a person needs depends on various factors and genetics, as well as how sleep deprived your body already may be. 7-9 hours of sleep per night is the recommended amount.
A common misconception is that people can get fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night and still function properly. The problem with this is that although the immediate effects of getting less sleep may be unnoticeable, the long-term effects can take a toll on our physical and mental health.
Adverse Effects of Too Little Sleep
Based on research, studies show that those who get just 6 hours of sleep per night have a much lower performance level on tests, physical abilities, and overall mental performance.
Further adverse effects of getting too little sleep include weight gain, anxiety, depression, and insulin resistance.
Sleep & The Brain
Sleep has the benefit of allowing our brain to “reset” itself, which allows our brain to reorganize, restore, and strengthen itself to be ready again for daytime function. It also helps our brain adapt more quickly to things during waking hours. Other benefits of sleep and the “resetting” of the brain include improving our critical thinking skills, spatial reasoning, reaction times, judgment and overall emotional stability.
Ways To Ensure A Good Night’s Rest
Several factors affect a good night’s rest including darkness, where we sleep, and when we sleep. An ideal environment would be dark, quiet, fresh and calm, with comfortable bedding and a lack of clutter in the room we are sleeping. Even abstaining from electronics plays a critical role in our quality of sleep. Trying to reduce our “screen time” on any electronic, including our phone, at least 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed, helps the brain unwind and slow down our constant over stimulation from electronics.
Natural Sleep Aids
Natural over the counter remedies for sleep may include Melatonin or Unisom. Chamomile tea is another option that helps make you drowsy, along with tart cherries or cherry juice.
If you feel you are a candidate that needs to prioritize sleep in your life proactively and want help from a medical professional, schedule an appointment with one of our Top10MD Sleep Medicine Specialists today!