You’ll spend about a third of your lifesleeping – or attempting to sleep, that is. We all know firsthand what it’s like to try to function when we haven’t gotten enough sleep.
Grogginess, irritability, and trouble concentrating get in the way of everything you need to get done at home and work.
Moreover, a lack of sleep can easily become life-threatening.
More than one in three Americansadmit to being sleep deprived and one in twenty admit to falling asleep at the wheel within the past month.
Aside from being dangerous, a lack of sleep is also known to put the brain through the wringer, as sleep hygiene is closely tied to brain health.
The Brain Runs on Sleep
Sleep is just as important as drinking water and nourishing your body. It influences our hormones, immune system, and many different neurological processes.
As a result, proper, quality sleep improves our mood, energy levels, and cognitive function.
Conversely, a lack of sleep diminishes our mood, lowers energy levels, and causes difficulties when it comes to concentration and focus.
Sleep allows us to consolidate memories, store experiences, and develop new ideas. Problem-solving and creative thinking are tied to quality sleep, too, according to recent research.
When you can’t form proper connections between different areas of the brain due to a lack of sleep, your reaction times decrease.
Learning becomes more difficult and toxins within the brain and body build, leading to a risk of disorders like high blood pressure, diabetes, and even depression.
On the other hand, when you get adequate rest, your brain is able to keep your body in proper working order.
“Beauty Rest” is Real
Have you ever had a poor night’s sleep and felt like you didn’t look like yourself in the morning? The phrase “beauty rest” is more than just a cheeky term.
Sleep allows the brain to release a growth hormone known to help you repair damaged tissue and create new cells.
That means that sleep helps you to build muscle, heal wounds, and repair damage caused by the environment, like sun damage.
As a result, sleep may help keep the skin from appearing dull or wrinkly by promoting cell turnover.
Moreover, sleep may help to regulate hunger hormones and cues, like ghrelin, which causes you to feel the sensation of hunger.
If you’re low on sleep, your calorie intake may be as much as 300 calories higherwhen compared to well-rested days.
The regulation of hunger cues and management of cell growth that occur after adequate sleep may be connected to the brain waves for sleep produced at different stages of wakefulness.
Required Brain Waves For Sleep
Your brain produces five different types of brain waves: gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
Gamma brain waves occur during periods of intense focus and are the fastest waves. Beta waves are the next fastest, occurring during conversation.
Alpha waves are slower, usually taking place during light relaxation.
You may think your brain isn’t active during rest, but the opposite is true. Electrical activity in the brain slows during sleep but is still present.
Brain waves for sleep are responsible for helping the body carry out restorative processes that occur as you rest.
Theta waves occur just as you’re drifting off to sleep. They may also occur during deep relaxation or dreams. Delta waves are the slowest frequency, occurring during deep sleep.
Why do the required brain waves for sleep matter and how do they relate to brain health? Neuroplasticity.
This term refers to our brain’s capacity to adapt, function, modify, and change in response to certain stimuli and experiences.
If you sleep too little, your brain won’t be able to adapt, process, or cleanse itself. Much like the different brain waves, there are different cycles and phases of sleep that play a role in brain health.
Dreaming occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, playing an important role in memory. Slow wave non-REM sleep is also associated with memory, helping the brain learn and remember new skills and information.
It makes sense, then, that your sleep patterns are proven to correlate with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.