We are all aware of what sleep deprivation feels like: it makes us exhausted, cranky and fatigued, while impairing our abilities to concentrate or stay focused. While we sleep our brain conducts electrical activity that is identified through two different patterns: Slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Slow-wave sleep is the first cycle and it is identified by slower electrical activity across the brain. The second cycle, known as the REM sleep, tends to have greater electrical activity with vividly real dreams. It is important to have anywhere between 7-9 hours sleep to allow the body and mind to rest completely and replenish its energies for the next day.

Why do we need sleep?

Sleep is incredibly important for our brain to function optimally and remain active. Sleep is equally important for toddlers, adolescents, adults and elderly because as we age, our sleep quality is reduced, and sleep cycles become more fragmented. It is important to regulate one’s sleep cycle as early on in life as possible to promote healthy development.

Sleep allows the brain to sweep up and clean the contours of the mind.1 It not only aids in memory retention and eliminating physical exhaustion, but it also aids in cleansing away all toxins that can increase the risk factors of neuro-degenerative ailments. As we sleep, the brain is able to flush out all harmful toxins and proteins, which allow it to protect the brain against memory-damaging and other neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s.

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?

Not getting sufficient and good quality sleep can weaken your immune system, reducing your body’s ability to protect you against infections and ailments. It can also affect your abilities to think, process, concentrate at work.

Research2 has linked the lack of sufficient sleep with excessive weight gain and stress-eating. Moreover, not being able to get enough sleep can also increase your risk factors for developing diabetes, and certain kinds of cancers, along with risking car accidents if you fall asleep behind the wheel.

6 Tips for a good night’s sleep

Make sure you have a good routine before bed to get your brain into the habit of going to bed and sleeping at a set time. Try not to nap in the day or have big lie-ins at the weekend and find out what works best for you.

Nutrition is key, making sure that you have a well balanced diet, reducing processed foods and your sugar intake, whilst making sure that you exercise during the day. Any exercise is good for you so why not start with walking?

Sources: 1, 2

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