Sleep and the Brain – When you sleep, you might think your body is inactive. But in reality, your body is actually working harder to repair and recover itself.
Here are 5 ways that sleep helps our brains stay healthy and balanced:
Sleep orders and strengthens our memories
Sleep helps the brain file the day’s activities away. As we sleep, the brain fast-forwards through the patterns of brain activity that occurred during the day. This replay not only organizes memories, but also strengthens the microscopic connections between nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s own filing system.
Sleep may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
Lack of sleep, or sleeping less than five hours a night, can lead to a build-up of beta-amyloid, a toxic protein that forms harmful plaques in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Getting a good seven hours of sleep a night can reduce the risk that these plaques accumulate in our brains.
Sleep makes the brain stronger
There’s a reason we feel more clear-headed after a good night’s sleep: we are. Sleep boosts alertness, replenishing the neurotransmitters that organize the neural networks in our brains. These networks are essential not only for memory, but also for learning, mental performance and problem solving.
Sleep gives the brain time to detox
Sleep helps restore the brain by flushing out toxins (including harmful proteins) that build up during waking hours. Our brains have a drainage system based on the movement of clear cerebrospinal fluid through channels surrounding the blood vessels. The process, has been named the brain’s glymphaticsystem by researchers.
Sleep enables our brains to perceive pleasure
The link between sleep and pleasure has to do with stress. The more stressed we are, the less we sleep; the less we sleep, the more stressed we get. The result is lowered levels of DHEA, the “life is good” hormone. Without sufficient DHEA, it’s harder for us to experience happiness. It doesn’t just seem as if we’re in a bad mood. Chemically, we are.