The Brain Benefits of a Full Night’s Sleep

Special to Palmetto Counseling’s Blog | July 13, 2018 10:14 AM EDT
This issue features an article by Ellie Porter

Getting plenty of sleep is healthy for your body. You probably know that without thinking about it very hard. Most people feel sluggish and slow when they don’t get enough rest, whereas only a few hours more sleep can make a huge difference in their energy levels.

Sleep isn’t just healthy for your body, though. It’s also good for your brain. In fact, when you sleep, you help your brain function the way it’s supposed to work. Some people even find that any symptoms of mental illness that they experience are reduced when they sleep well.

Handle Negative Emotions Better

The amygdala is the part of the brain that helps regulate emotions, especially negative ones. Researchers used functional MRI imaging to show that that amygdala doesn’t function normally when you don’t get enough sleep. When the amygdala isn’t doing its job well, emotional responses to negative things that happen may be greater than usual. In more extreme situations, people may even feel out of control or like they are upset or angry all the time.

Improve Your Mental Health

Getting enough sleep also seems to reduce the chances that a person will experience hallucinations and paranoia. For people who have mental health challenges, this study indicates that sleeping may make a difference in their overall mental well-being. For the rest of us, this study shows that the brain clearly needs plenty of sleep and, when it doesn’t receive that, it doesn’t function as well as it could. In fact, the researchers hypothesize that not getting enough rest could make it more likely that you will eventually experience these symptoms.

Maximize Your Sleep

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re likely experiencing the effects of that lack even if you don’t know it. Improve your brain function and your mental health by improving your rest. Here’s how.

Turn off the devices. Screens, like those on your tablet, laptop, and phone, as well as your TV screen, emit blue light. That light can keep your brain from producing enough melatonin at night, which is a hormone that tells your body to rest. Prep for bedtime by turning off all your devices an hour or so before you want to sleep.

Get a mattress suited to your needs. Tossing and turning is no fun, and you’re more likely to be uncomfortable at night if your mattress isn’t supporting you well. Take the time to determine what sort of bed is best for your sleeping position, temperature preferences and size. Then, invest in your sleep health.

Make it quiet. Noise can wake you, but it can also disturb your sleep even if you don’t wake up. Do what it takes to lower the number of sounds that enter your room at night. Get a fan or a white noise machine, cover your head with a pillow, wear earplugs, or close your windows for better rest.

Take care of yourself, body and brain, by getting the rest you need. You’ll likely feel better and happier, too.

Ellie Porter

Managing Editor |
[email protected]

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