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How Poor Sleep Can Have Negative Effects on Your Brain

Quality sleep is a vital part of good health, but if you are like many people, you are not getting the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation can cause a host of physical ailments, but it can also have negative effects on your brain.

If you do not get enough sleep or have poor quality sleep, you are not alone. According to Sleep medicine, a resource provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 30 to 35 percent of people in the United States experience brief periods of insomnia and 10 percent experience chronic insomnia.

A lack of sleep can cause all sorts of health problems affecting your entire body, such as a weakened immune system and weight gain, but poor slumber can cause special problems in your brain. Sleep helps restore your brain by flushing out toxins. When you sleep, tiny channels open wide to increase the amount of cerebral spinal fluid flowing through your brain. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid washes away waste products that could otherwise damage your brain. Sleep also locks in what you learn and preserves important memories.

How Much Sleep do You Need?

Sleeping the right number of hours each night can nurture a healthy brain, but optimal sleep duration varies from one person to the next. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends specific sleep durations according to age. The NSF says that newborns should sleep 14 to 17 hours each day, for example, while teenagers aged 14 to 17 ought to snooze for 8 to 10 hours each day. Adults aged 18 to 64 should get 7 to 9 hours of shuteye daily, and older adults should doze for 7 to 8 hours in a day.

Missing just a few hours of sleep over one night can make you feel groggy and grumpy, but long-term sleep deprivation can drain your mental abilities. You might experience trouble with thinking and concentration, for example, which can decrease your ability to make decisions and increase your risk for mistakes and accidents. Lack of sleep one night can make you emotional, moody, and quick-tempered the next day; sleep deprivation for a long time can lead to anxiety or depression.

Poor quality sleep can also cause ill health and poor cognitive function. Poor quality sleep occurs when you have trouble falling asleep, problems staying asleep, or toss and turn all night.

Consult with your physician for more information on sleep and brain health. For more information, or to make an appointment, call Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.