When I was an anesthesiology trainee, I worked 24-hour shifts with no sleep every other night. The schedule was insane. By the end of an overnight shift, doctors look like little zombies with stethoscopes. Poor sleep negatively affects the body and actually worsens our memory and learning.
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body
When you’re not getting enough sleep, a lot of things can badly wrong, including:]
- Increased stress
- Impaired reaction time
- Behavior similar to being drunk
- Increased risk of accidents
- Errors in judgment
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Overeating and weight gain
- Mood changes
- Greater risk of diabetes
- Greater risk of heart disease
- Decreased immune system function
Deep Healing Sleep
During the deepest stage of sleep, your body rests and repairs itself and heals. Your brain waves, heart rate, and respiratory rate become slow. Healing is a very tranquil state.
Next, your brain moves into an active stage called REM.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
REM sleep is a stage of vivid dreaming. Interestingly, the eyes move rapidly back and forth during this stage. The brain is very active during REM sleep and this is the stage when memories are formed. This is also when the brain removes toxins and prepares your brain new learnings.
Light Disrupts Sleep
Your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) determines the timing of your wakefulness and sleepiness. Exposure to light has the greatest influence on your circadian rhythm. In the morning, blue light from the sun triggers alertness. When the sun goes down, the brain produces a hormone, melatonin, which promotes sleep. Unfortunately, many people are exposed to blue light in the evening that’s being emitted from laptops, cell phones, iPads, and TVs. Blue light blocks the brain’s ability to produce melatonin. As a result, your sleep is compromised.
Make Your Brain Smarter
We’re human and we love using electronics, but they don’t love us so they don’t belong in the bed. Instead, we should give ourselves a break from devices at least a couple of hours before going to sleep. Aim to go to bed by 10 pm and sleep in a nice dark room to promote sleep. You’ll likely be smarter and more focused the next day.
Nourish Your Brain with Healing Foods
If you haven’t started already, eat more plants. Antioxidant-rich plant-based foods, such as leafy greens, berries, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds promote optimal brain function.
One of my clients adopted a plant-based lifestyle and stopped watching television in the bedroom. She noticed a significant improvement in her mental clarity. Her brain fog lifted, and she became more focused and capable of retaining information. Her boss noticed her sharper memory and how well she began running meetings and performing at work.
I know, you’re super busy and it’s tempting to cut corners on sleep, but it’s not worth the risk. To perform at your best and protect your brain functions, get a good night’s sleep. A good restful and restorative sleep will let you perform at your very best.
We are growing, so If you liked this article, then share this blog with someone who needs the information today.
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.
How Sleep Affects Memory and Learning. Sleep.org website.
Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a physician, health coach, workplace wellness consultant, and speaker. She helps people heal themselves with food. Through wellness workshops and courses, she helps companies create healthy, energetic teams.
5 Ways to Boost Your Energy
>> Nutritious foods that increase energy
>> Tips for waking up well-rested
>> Lifestyle changes to help you feel vibrant & alive