The John Hopkins article, The Science of Sleep, says that “a healthy amount of sleep is vital for “brain plasticity,” or the brain’s ability to adapt to input. If we sleep too little, we become unable to process what we’ve learned during the day and we have more trouble remembering it in the future. Researchers also believe that sleep may promote the removal of waste products from brain cells — something that seems to occur less efficiently when the brain is awake.”
When we don’t get enough sleep, our mental health can also be affected. Symptoms of anxiety or depression may begin or increase, we may have difficulty concentrating or making decisions during the day and/or feel more irritable.
The Mind organization, in their article How Does Sleep Relate to Mental Health says, “There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
It can be a vicious cycle; the more we are stressed or worried, the worse our sleep gets, and the worse our sleep gets, the more stressed we feel, both about not sleeping and about things in our daily lives.
Bottom line, it’s very important to pay attention to our sleep patterns and to address any difficulties we’re having around sleep as quickly as possible.
How to improve sleep?
One excellent resource on improving sleep is from the Sleep Foundation, emphasizing the importance of good sleep hygiene. The Mayo Clinic, Harvard University and other recommend similar steps. The basics are:
- Set a consistent sleep schedule
- Have a consistent sleep/wake time
- Keep day napping to a minimum
- Follow a nightly routine
- Keep the routine consistent
- Dim lights
- Unplug from electronic devices 30 – 60 minutes before bed
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do a calming activity, then try again
- Cultivate healthy daily habits
- Get outside in natural light
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and food in the later evening
- Learn relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing to slow the mind and body down
- Optimize your bedroom
- Have a comfortable mattress and bedding
- Use light and noise blockers
- Lower the temperature in your room
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only
- Use calming scents like lavender
Improving Sleep with NeurOptimal® Brain Training
Clients often report that their sleep is one of the first things that starts to improve after starting NeurOptimal® sessions ; they get to sleep faster, stay asleep for longer periods of time during the night, and/or they dream more, i.e. are in REM sleep, the most restorative stage of sleep, longer. Many clients say that the quality of sleep improves. They may not sleep for more hours, yet they feel much more rested and refreshed when they wake up.