Burning Out: The relationship between sleep and brain functionality

Whether you’re up late running through the details for a big presentation, cramming for a test, or tending to the needs of a sick kid, at a certain point, you catch the time and that sinking feeling sets in. It’s way past your bedtime, and while crashing into your pillow and drifting off is always sweet comfort, it’s always compounded by the pain of knowing that when your alarm goes off, a long, painful day awaits.

This is your brain on too-little sleep.

Skimping on vital, beautiful, important sleep robs you of more than clear eyes and a bounce in your step. It also has a serious effect on your brain. We’ve all considered the thrills of taking too many aspirin and then driving a tractor, but there’s a reason we don’t follow through. The risk is too great. Doing anything of importance while impaired radically increases your chances of disaster, and operating your body without enough sleep is no different. Your brain is wobbly, it missed out on all the valuable rehab time that comes when you’re deep in la-la land.

What do the experts say?

Psychologists and cognitive scientists can’t quite nail why we sleep, but they largely agree that without sleep, our brains suffer. When we sleep, our bodies may come to a peaceful, nearly paralyzed stop, but our brains are hard at work. They’re storing away the day’s memories, encoding little snippets and filing them away for later use. Our brains are furiously commanding hormone-producing glands to repair the body, replace what was depleted, and get us ready for the next day.

Cutting those functions short leaves us exposed to the obstacles of life. A certain cognitive dysfunction sets in, leaving you with slower reaction times, heightened stress, and trouble solving simple problems. Now obviously, this is on the extreme end — most of us aren’t operating under serious sleep deprivation — but even coming up a little short on your ZZZs can leave you feeling dazed. Over time, that sleep deficit can add up and the result is a you that’s not running at 100.

If you aren’t sleeping enough, your brain struggles to keep up with its many jobs. During the day, we’re engaged in any number of complex situations from the slog of a busy schedule to maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family. Navigating the world requires a healthy, fully functioning brain. Our brains control nearly every aspect of our existence — brains define our sense of self, inform what we experience, control our bodies, and make us feel things. When we haven’t tucked in for a full night’s sleep, our brains go a little haywire.

Without sleep, your brain is at risk:

You’re feeling blue. A tired brain has been shown to produce more serotonin, the same chemical that appears in higher levels with folks that suffer from depression.

You’re killing brain cells. While the brain is active during sleep, some cells and nerves are at rest. Without the rest, these cells and nerves can die off.

You’re being irrational. Like serotonin increases, your brain is generally struggling to regulate the flow of chemicals that keep you even-keeled. Paired with heightened stress, you might be a bit of a mess.

Look out! Lack of sleep can result in an busy prefrontal cortex, drastically slowing down reaction times

What’s in the way?

So, you’re thinking I get it, I need to sleep . Yes, you need to sleep. Your brain is counting on it. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the occasional late night, but if you’re struggling to regularly get your full time in bed, take a look at what might be in your way.

If you’re stressed or anxious, consider some relaxation techniques to wind you down at night. If you’re too busy, check out how other people manage their time for tips you might be able to add to your routine. If you’re sneaking snacks before bed, look at your overall diet and eating patterns and make some changes.

There are simple adjustments to your routine and lifestyle that can have a dramatic effect on getting more good shut eye. Taken one at a time, or with drastic sweeping changes, you’re sure to reap the benefits when your brain is sharp and ready for action

Your mattress plays a big role too. From comfort to support, without the right mattress, it’s tough to get the right sleep. At Sleep365, we’re going beyond your average mattress with natural, luxurious materials and state of the art construction that help you make the most of your sleep time.