Over the past few decades, the study of sleep has made huge advances which have brought us closer to understanding the scientific value of a good night’s sleep. A normal human being spends an average of one-third of his life sleeping and data from new research sheds some light on why getting enough sleep is crucial to our physical and mental health during the other two-thirds of our lives we spend awake.
6) Sleep cleanses the brain.
According to a research done by the University of Rochester Medical Center, while we sleep, the brain gets rid of toxins that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and brain function loss. Using lab mice as test subjects, the researchers found a system in their brain that is similar to our brain’s lymphatic system that opens during sleep and cleanses the brain with fluids to wash out toxic by-products accumulated during neural activity. Not only does this nightly self cleaning keep our mind healthy, it also keeps us sharp as we age.
5) Sleep keeps your mind sharp.
Aside from flushing out toxins, sleep also enables you to lock in new information more easily. This is because both REM and Slow-wave sleep help boost faster recall of information, experiences and skills you have collected throughout the day. It is during a state of deep restful sleep when your brain’s neocortex and hippocampus communicate to collect, combine and store what you have learned during the day. This is also the reason why you are able to recall information for a test much more easily if you had a good night’s sleep the night before.
4) Sleep keeps the cold at bay.
According to a German scientific study, a good night’s sleep gives your immune system time to store “memories” of infection so that your body can come up with defenses to fight the same diseases in the future. It turns out staying in bed and sleeping the day away during a cold or a flu is more beneficial for us than we think.
3) Not every part of the brain is asleep during sleep.
Most of us think that our entire brain shuts down when we sleep at night. But according to neuroscientists at MIT, there is a special neural circuit which can put some parts of our brain awake while other parts are asleep. This finding is especially true when we sleep in a new environment. To guard the body from possible threats, half of our brain stays more alert and awake when we are sleeping in a new place. This explains why we never sleep as soundly when we are away from home.
2) Your bed is more important that you think.
Your bed can be crucial to the quality of your sleep. One research states that the ideal firmness for a mattress is medium-firm since it does not put too much pressure on the body’s sensitive spots like the back and neck. Bear in mind though that firmness for a 150-pound person will feel a lot different to a 250-pound person so make sure that you test drive a mattress before making the purchase.
1) Seven is the ideal number.
According to the findings of a recent research, people who regularly get 7 hours of sleep were the ones who who were able to reap the biggest health benefits. The study also reveals that getting roughly seven hours of sleep per night improves cognitive performance and reduces mortality rates. Researchers also stated that too little or too much sleep are also risk factors in developing heart problems, diabetes and obesity so aim for that seven-hour sleep to function at your best.