By Guest Blogger Jenna J.
This is Why Your Brain Can’t Function without Sleep
Your brain is a complex system with just as many neurons in it as the number of stars in our entire galaxy. Each neuron is connected to others through a whopping 40,000 connections referred to as synapses by medical professionals. And yet, for many of us, it is the most overlooked organ in the body.
More than the body, it is the brain that needs sleep. All your body organs are cleaned of toxins and metabolites while they’re in their normal function throughout the day. It is the brain which has to wait for when you’re asleep to have its cleaning done. There’s other important stuff your brain needs to do while sleeping as well, which has bearing on your memory, health and immunity. Why then do we skip sleep?
Superstitions of Self Denial
A common motif in the annals and accounts of success has been that of spending nights in motivated labor. It’s only too visible in pop culture, for example, when Will Smith puts the kid to bed but works the entire night to correct a malfunctioning machine he intends to sell. Or, when in the legend of Achilles in the Iliad, he spends the night awake, plotting for revenge. We’ve never stopped to ask why we buy these myths. The Romans had a famous distaste for sleep, considering it a state of absolute debilitation and something to avoid to as much extent as possible.
It seems to be our hunger for success that makes us believe we can make hard sacrifices from our sleep to chase an ungraduated goal. “Well, as you know, there are 24 hours in every day. And if that’s not enough, you’ve always got the nights!”, as Ronald Graham the famous mathematician says. And yet, as we make cuts from our 24 hour day, we never have a quantified measure of success. Is $2400 a day a measure of success? Is it the awe of getting 24 people in the course of a day? Or are we chasing an elusive goal of paying off our debts in 24 months? If the answer to all these questions is no, what really are we chasing?
How poor sleep routs the brain
Despite no graduated standards, we deny ourselves sleep. If you skip an hour of sleep 5 days a week (and no, there’s no such thing as making up for it over the weekend), you’ve lost over a month’s worth of sleep at the end of the year. You can be sure it is detrimental to the brain.
To know what happens when you don’t sleep, let me tell you why the brain needs sleep.
- The brain generates toxins and metabolites like any other organ in the body during its course of activities throughout the day. While other organs can be cleaned by the body anytime, the brain gets its only major cleanup while you’re asleep. This is because sleeping allows brain activity to calm down and brain cells to shrink a bit. More ugly stuff can be washed out of the brain, and your brain doesn’t have to fight against this garbage to function the next day.
- A crucial part of memory retaining is the transfer of information from short term to long term memory, which, you guessed it, only happens when you’re asleep. Your brain sorts out information it gathered through the day and puts what’s important in long term memory, the rest being discarded. Without sleep, you’re going to have a hard time remembering things.
- Research shows your brain cannot make new brain cells to replace the dead ones when you’re sleep deprived. Take out neurons little by little for each day you spend in sleep deprivation, and suddenly the high number of nerve cells doesn’t seem all that insurmountable.
- Without adequate replenishment and cleaning, your brain as well as body are fighting a losing battle. Sleep and immune function are closely related, as studies point out. Low sleep means you’re going to be more susceptible to coughs and colds, as well as more dire infections. With disease comes monetary and mental exertion, which results in stress and further lack of sleep, making a self perpetuating cycle.
It’s not always your fault either. It can be the traffic on the street outside your house that’s keeping you from sleeping well with its noise, or the nightclub nearby. Many have trouble logging off the internet, and so their minds are alert to the sounds of any vibrations or notification tones it might hear, even in sleep. Sometimes, it might just be a smelly or dented mattress that’s not keeping you comfortable while you sleep, or the temperature of the room that’s all wrong.
Urgent Corrections to Follow
It can be hard to follow the 8 hour schedule, especially since it is not valid for everyone’s bodily needs. Just as many people wake up groggy from too much sleep as those who wake up under-rested. A rule of thumb is to allow yourself to wake up when you’re satisfied with your sleep. If you wake up groggy or have a slow brain day more often than twice a week, it can be that you’re not well rested.
Get thick blinds and invest in soundproofing to keep the outside noise outdoors. Clean your existing mattress or buy a better one you will easily get various mattress reviews online. Set the thermostat to a temperature your body is comfortable with when it’s resting. You can crank it up or down later. Most importantly, switch to airplane mode before flying off to dreamland.
Your brain needs its sleep to keep your body in order, as well as to make sure you don’t lose your job due to low performance, get a bad cold or get long term illnesses like depression or Alzheimer’s. It is worth the time to get adequate sleep.
Tia, and TipsfromTia.com is trying to keep you looking good and
feeling good, from the inside out. If you’ve got a problem or a tip email me! Be sure to Like and share on Facebook or Follow on Twitter or Instagram