There is nothing as refreshing as a good night’s sleep. You wake up feeling revitalized and ready to face the
day’s challenges. This is because during sleep, growth hormones are released to heal damaged tissue,
including brain tissue. Sleep also oils the cogs of the cognitive system by “reviewing and recalling” the day’s
experiences, which helps transfer information into your long-term memory. Sleep regulates your body clock,
known as the “circadian rhythm,” which is naturally attuned with the daily cycle of light and darkness, and is
detected by your eyes. It is the reason why people suffer from jet lag after a long-haul flight, and it takes awhile for the body clock to readjust.
How much sleep?
The amount of sleep required varies from person to person. Some people can get by with as little as five hours a night,
while others need nine. It is important to be aware of what your own “magic number” is and try to stick to that figure.
Otherwise you risk inhibiting your productivity as well as your ability to remember and process information. A lack of sleep
puts an enormous strain on the brain. Studies have shown that asleep-deprived brain loses efficiency.
An area usually active during a specific task needs to be propped up by other parts of the brain. It is like driving a vehicle
with a flat tire—your performance is severely reduced. Sleep deprivation also increases stress hormone levels, which
reduces nerve cell production (neurogenesis) in the adult brain. Sleep can be divided into four separate brain
stages. There’s the theta wave when we sometimes rouse with a sudden jerk. Then there’s the delta wave activity,
during which if awaken you’d be totally disorientated. While asleep you go back and forth through these two brainwave
patterns in 90-minute cycles. It is then that you also enter REM sleep, where your eyelids show movement of a seemingly alert mind.
And then, of course, there’s the dream state which, according to Freud, acts as a safety valve for the overburdened brain.
Nap for a mini brain boost
If you feel drowsy in the early afternoon, perhaps after lunch, take a 20-minute nap. It might be impractical in many circumstances
but it will do your brain more good than reaching for a cup of coffee. Daytime napping is healthy for the brain.
You need it to refresh your brain cells and allow the different areas to recover. If your brain’s tired, your performance will slow down
. A nap is also a good de-stresser. Some researchers have even suggested that a six-minute nap can improve performances in
memory and problem-solving tests.
Top tips for good sleep