• Sleep Well Blog

Why is sleep important for cognitive health?

Growing up, it is likely that you would have heard your teachers say, "Make sure to sleep well," on the night before an exam. In fact, many of us know how difficult it is to perform well or as easily when we don't get enough sleep.


However, the insidious thing about sleep deprivation is that after a while, people frequently become so used to the feeling of being tired that it becomes their new normal. Despite feeling "fine","okay", or even "good", their performance actually suffers. Research has confirmed that even when people feel fine after being sleep deprived, they do not perform as well as when they have rested well.


Sleep and Cognitive Performance

Good sleep is important for effective decision making, judgement, attention, and memory. Learning becomes more challenging after a poor night's rest. Conveying our ideas to others is also hampered when we don't sleep well. Our creativity is stifled when we are sleep deprived.


Sleep and Brain Health

Moreover, research has now revealed a link between brain health and poor sleep. People who experience chronic sleep deprivation, either because of poor sleep habits or in relation to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, are at greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. This particular link is related to the work of the glymphatic system, which washes out, if you will, the byproducts [i.e., tau and beta-amyloid (or amyloid-beta)] of being awake during the day.


As more researchers have studied the link between brain health and sleep, their findings point to the need to take sleep seriously not only for maintaining and optimising performance but also for long-term cognitive health.


Are you sleeping enough at night? If you aren't sleeping between 7-9 hours daily, then it is highly likely that you are sleep deprived and are accumulating sleep debt. It's time to think about what this means for your cognitive health.


Begin with thinking about your lifestyle. Consider these questions:

  • Are there things that you can change so that you can obtain your 7-9 hours of daily rest?

  • Have you learned enough about sleep hygiene?

  • If you suspect a sleep disorder, have you seen a sleep specialist?

  • If you have sought treatment but can't maintain good sleep habits, have you seen a sleep coach?

  • If your issue is related to how to integrate good sleep into your hectic lifestyle, have you seen a sleep coach?


Know this: the earlier that you act to integrate pro-sleep wellness habits into your life in a sustainable way, the better it will be for your cognitive performance and health.




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