Your brain needs it rest. Getting enough sleep is crucial to keeping you on point. If you aren’t sleeping enough then it’s extra hard for your mind to function throughout the day. This is because at night your brain is compartmentalizing your day, categorizing all your memories and clearing out unhealthy toxins.
While your body is resting, your mind is up doing an important job, so if you deprive it of any sleep and add a dose of stress that usually comes from sleep deprivation, then during the day it is pretty much useless.
The combination of extreme fatigue and acute stress specifically affects memory function, according to a study done at Uppsala University in Sweden. The study was done on 15 male participants, in which they were divided into two groups. One group was only given four hours of sleep, while the other group was allowed to sleep eight hours. Before they went to sleep, they were asked to sit in on a session where they studied the location of 15 card pairings on a computer.
In the morning both groups were asked to remember each card’s location. The groups actually had the same cognitive recognition, meaning that both were able to create the locations into their long term memory. However, the second part of the study put each group through thirty minutes of stress before asking them to recall the locations again in the morning. These results differed, showing that the men that had only four hours of sleep experienced a ten percent reduction in their memory of the locations, while the men who had eight hours had no memory reduction.
This research re-enforced the idea that stress paired with insufficient sleep can alter the way the brain uses its memory systems, making motor skills more important to remember than fact memories when it is hard pressed to choose. Although it may seem like a ten percent decrease in memory ability is small, it is actually significant when you factor in the fact that this reduction occurred after only one night’s sleep and a small amount of stress. The logical conclusion to be made is that this percentage will only increase as more sleep is lost and most stress is incurred, which is a common occurrence in the United States where chronic insomnia is prevalent.
Making sleep a priority is the best way to maximize your cognitive function. Getting between seven and eight hours of sleep every night will greatly improve your ability to recall memories, improve work efficiency and lower stress levels.
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