Let’s be honest, we all like sleeping well and rightly so. Sleeping well at night keeps our memory and thinking process up to the mark. It also keeps different diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia at bay. Like the Irish Proverb
“A good laugh and a long sleep are two best cures for anything”; sleeping is as important for you as is food and air.
Why Sleeping Well Is Important
Our sleep passes through different stages during a few hour cycle of sleep at night. Research shows that multiple crucial processes take place during each of the stages of sleep. All of these processes are equally important to protect our brain’s health. Therefore, anyone who wants to keep his memory strong must take care of good sleep habits. This is said by the scientists who explored the inseparable link between sleep, memory, and thinking.
Picture 1: Sleep is among the fundamental biological characteristics of all the humans and animals (Picture credit: Unsplash.com)
Sleep and Our Biology
According to MD National Institute of Health (NIH) Michael Twery, our sleep is deeply interlinked with our fundamental biology. It is deep-rooted in the chemistry of the organization of all of our body cells. It also holds true for the processes involved in managing our emotions, expressions, and even in how we view the world and educate ourselves. If you don’t believe the importance of sleeping well at night and poor sleep consequences, try to stay up the whole night. The very next day, your thinking will be blurry. This shows how lack of sleep affects the thinking process.
During the deep sleep, important stages of the memory storage process take place. At the same time, crucial brain waste washing processes occur to remove the harmful byproducts of the brain that produced during the normal activity of the brain during the day. Poor sleep leads to interruption of these processes, and as a result, thinking and memory suffer a lot.
Side-Effects of Poor Sleeping Habits
Poor sleeping causes multiple mental and health issues. Some of the poor sleep health effects are as follows:
Sleep slowdowns your thinking and learning process
If you are sleep-deprived, chances are higher that you’ll be involved in an accident.
Poor sleep affects your heart health as well. The chance of heart attack increases multifold if you are sleep-deprived.
Poor sleep leads to various mental health problems as well, the top of the list are stress and depression.
Fearful of early aging? Take proper sleep, stay healthy, and stay fit for long.
Poor sleep and memory loss have a deep relation. Poor sleeping makes you forgetful.
Tired of gaining weight? Avoid poor and oversleeping as both can cause obesity.
Poor sleep can be behind the poor judgments. If you are going through this problem, take care of your sleep.
Picture 2: Poor sleep creates a lot of mental and other health hazards (Picture credit: Unsplash.com)
Sleep Well at Night Is Important for the Learning Process
If you ever noticed, some of the students in the class always look fragile and poor learners. One of the reasons for being poor leaner is sleep deprivation. Sleeping well has long been considered very important for strengthening memory. You most probably understand the learning process that happens during the day when you are awake, for example, you are reading a book or our article. This may be a conversation with your friend. Interestingly, will you remember this conversation, book, or article depends on how good is your sleep.
This consolidation or strengthening of memories depends on the following steps:
In this process, you are introduced to new information and knowledge, for example, this article. This information is get encoded immediately in the brain when you are awake. This will leave a trace of memory in your brain and is very likely to be forgotten.
Consolidation or Strengthening Step
This new knowledge or information is sorted, grouped, and saved in different portions of the brain for future retrieval when you sleep well. This process can be called as integration process, as this new information is integrated with old memories and brain storage.
This is the process of remembering; when you try to remember the information of the previous two steps, its signal reaches the storehouses of your brain to retrieve the information stored as memories.
The first process i.e. encoding and last step i.e. the retrieval process takes place when you are awaking, while the consolidation of the memory mainly happens during the sleeping hours. You don't need sleeping a lot for this consolidation process, only up to 7 hours’ sleep is enough for a healthy man. These seven hours include all cycles of sleeping e.g. the light and shallow sleep, in-depth slow-wave sleep, and rapid eye movement sleep or REM. The important fact here is each stage is equally important in strengthening the information.
All Phases of Sleep Are Equally Important
You might wonder which phase of sleep is more important than the remaining phases. According to the researchers, the memory consolidation process is very complex and depends on all phases of sleep. During different sleep processes, patterns of electrical activity reshape while the brain cells are establishing connections with each other. Slow-wave sleep and REM sleep both phases are responsible for separate kinds of information to consolidate.
Slow Wave Sleep
This period of sleep is a deep one in which the brain starts to classify, identify, and consolidate information that is related to declarative and factual type, gathered during the whole day.
It is important for learning procedural and motor skills. This means REM sleep is responsible for consolidating step by step fact integration and learning new techniques.
Slow-wave sleep initiates the consolidation process, REM gives sequence to the cell connections and helps the brain to grow. This explains why we need to take a nap to consolidate the learning process, for example, a new game.
Sleep is like a phase of memory triage where the brain search for common patterns in the latest gathered information, find specific rules to classify the information, and finally, integrate it into continuously developing the brain's store of information and knowledge. Before the integration, the information is thoroughly examined for its relevance to already existing information in your brain.
Brain’s Cleanup During Sleep
Sleeping well during the night is not only important for consolidating information, but also helps in cleaning the brain from toxic protein called Amyloid, gathered during the full day brain activity. Now, if you don't sleep properly, this toxic material will store in the brain, clog it, and affects the growth of healthy neurons. If this happens, it will impact memory storage badly.
Amyloid is the same protein present in plaques as well as the tangles of brains of those people who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid also mixes with the tau protein and various kinds of dementia. The matter is not very simple when it comes to sleeping as one study reveals that the amount of Amyloid in the brain can increase significantly in one night of bad sleep. However, it’s still not 100% sure that how exactly the Amyloid protein builds up in the brain, however, almost all studies have the same point of view that sleep deprivation plays important role in its buildup.
Picture 3: Quality Sleep is important for cleaning of brain (Picture credit: Unsplash.com)
Wants to Sleep Well? Follow These Tips
Many people are facing poor sleep problems these days. But most of the people opt for sleeping pills to get better sleep. You can improve the quality of sleep without consuming sleeping pills by following the below given simple tips.
Setting up a fixed bedtime is important for quality sleep. Make your bedtime more relaxing with your favorite activity, for example, take a shower before sleeping.
It is wise to use your bed only for sleeping or love activities. Stop using it for other activities, for example, reading a newspaper or watching a movie while sitting on it.
If you are unable to sleep for up to 20 minutes, leave the bedroom and go into another room and perform a relaxing activity like reading. When you feel sleepy again, come back to the bedroom again to sleep.
Exercise can be a helpful tool for better sleeping. Do up to half an hour to 45 minutes of exercise every day.
· Do more stressful and difficult tasks in the day and less demanding tasks during the night.
If you are caffeine consumers, stop it or at least limit it. Don't take it after 2 p.m.
Never go hungry in bed, but don't eat a very heavy dinner.
To stop sleep interruptions due to urination, drink less water after dinner.
Stop drinking alcohol or at least minimize its consumption. Never take it after dinner.
Sleep is one of the fundamental functions of human nature. While quality sleep can prove pivotal for the refreshing day ahead, poor sleep can blur your thinking power the next day. Good sleep is necessary for the healthy growth of the body and brain. Proper sleep is necessary for memory consolidation and effective thinking process. Therefore, if you want to learn more skills and knowledge, first learn how to sleep better.
When we say quality sleep, it doesn't mean you need to increase the quantity of sleep. Up to 7-8-hour sleep is more than enough. If you are facing troubles while sleeping better, follow the above-given tips to improve the quality of sleep.