Sleep on It: Shuteye Is Crucial to Brain Health and Memory
The benefits of a good night’s sleep have been known for centuries. But the risks of poor sleep are still coming to light, including the adverse effects on brain function and cognition.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Tips for Better Sleep1
Sleep deprivation can hinder a person’s ability to concentrate while awake. And it can interfere with brain waves that transfer recently acquired experiences to the prefrontal cortex. Adequate sleep is needed to collect, absorb, store and recall new information.
An adult needs an average of seven hours of sleep per day to maintain memory in later life, research confirms. Adverse changes in sleep duration have been associated with poorer cognitive function in middle-aged individuals. One study found that women sleeping five hours or less – or nine hours or more – had worse global cognition scores than women who had the usual hours of shuteye.
Optimal sleep, on the other hand, supports brain function along with many other bodily systems, including the immune system. Pharmacists can recommend tips for patients to achieve better sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these include:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
- Create a relaxing environment. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature.
- Remove electronic devices. Make your bedroom free of TVs, computers, and smart phones.
- Watch your consumption. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.