Did you get enough sleep last night?
”Sleep is a non-negotiable, biological necessity”, Matthew Walker, Director of the Berkely Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab.
Most of us have experienced that awful feeling after waking up still tired.
Moody, demotivated, just wanting to dive back under the covers.
Not possible as work beckons. This is the mood you take to your place of work and colleagues, or clients if you’re on the entrepreneur journey, expecting to experience a day of high concentration, engagement, and productivity.
You may be copacetic with poor sleep.
However, sleep is more important for your brain than you realise.
Studies have shown that most of us regularly need 7-8 hours a night.
When you get enough sleep your attention is sharper, your concentration ability is higher and your learning capabilities deeper.
Consequences of sleep deprivation:
⦁ reduced ability to focus on large amounts of information
⦁ difficulty sustaining your attention for long periods
⦁ slower reaction times
⦁ ability to problem solve reduced
⦁ poor memory recall
⦁ increased levels of cortisol [stress hormone]
⦁ poor regulation of emotions
⦁ weight gain due to higher levels of ghrelin-hunger hormone and lower levels of leptin-satiety hormone
An extreme consequence of sleep deprivation is your brain ”micro-sleeping”. Your brain may force itself to shut down for a few seconds when you are awake. You may become unconscious for a few seconds and not even realise.
Can you imagine if this happened whilst you were driving or operating machinery?
Sleep deprivation reduces your cognitive abilities akin to that of a drunk person.
What is your brain up to whilst you sleep?
Electroencephalogram [EEG] readings show that your brain is actually more active when you sleep. There are some parts of your brain that are up to 30% more active during sleep than during the day.
As you sleep your brain is busy selecting which memories and learnings from your day are worth saving.
Do you really need to save the memory of what you ate for breakfast that morning?
Your brain will ”prune away’‘ unwanted neural connections. By pruning away excess connections, sleep effectively creates the space so that you can learn again the next day.
Regular deep sleep aids memory consolidation. Your learnings and thoughts from your PFC [pre frontal cortex], the higher-ordered thinking region, get sent to your hippocampus-memory inbox-for long term storage to be accessed in the future.
Lack of sleep can decrease how much of what you have learned that day is stored in your long term memory.
Sleep protects your memories!
Your brain cells are sending electrical messages all day long due to your thoughts, learnings, and everyday activities.
These electrical signals ”produce” toxic waste products. During sleep the space between brain cells increases, allowing cerebral spinal fluid to cleanse the brain of toxins along with toxic proteins which are linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Sleep is important for your immune system and cardiovascular health.
Regular deep sleep promotes a clean and healthy brain and may stave off a number of diseases.
Deep sleep produces delta brainwaves, at this level, your body’s muscles and other cells heal and generate.
Tiredness can lead to stress and mismanagement of challenging situations. Your amygdala is always on the alert for negative emotions and when it is activated it hi-jacks your PFC.
You are less able to regulate your emotions, plan, assess, concentrate, and so on as a result.
Personal and professional relationships can suffer.
Your brain utilises 20% of the body’s energy, it is such a waste of energy managing negative emotions and consequences as a result of tiredness. Potential, creativity, innovation, productivity… the list goes on …losing out due to poor sleep habits.
Adequate sleep can help you to react calmly and control negative impulses.
Overall, deep regular sleep helps you to look, feel, and heal better. Your general levels of positivity, happiness, and feeling great are increased. You are alert, sharper with improved memory, and regulation of emotions.
Your stress levels are within your control.
⦁ keep your bedroom cool, 18 degrees centigrade is optimal
⦁ the regularity of sleep is important, same time to bed, same time to awake, even at weekends
⦁ 8 hours of sleep will give you about 62-110 minutes of deep restorative sleep
⦁ reduce your screen time well before bed
⦁ reduce caffeine, wine, and nicotine before bed
⦁ exercise earlier in the day can promote sleep
⦁ write down your to-do list for the next day- get the points out of your head
⦁ Meditation can help to calm your mind and aid sleep
⦁ Prepare your bedroom- gorgeous bedlinen, low light, cool temperature -associate the ambience with rest and sleep.
As you read at the beginning, ”sleep is a non-negotiable, biological necessity”.
Prioritise it and give yourself a healthy competitive edge in all facets of your life.
Naiyer Sultana Qureshi