The Sleep Sweet Spot for Avoiding Memory Problems

Sleep is a major issue for many people. I’m continually surprised at the number of my clients who have problems either getting enough sleep, or falling asleep when they finally make sleep a priority. Inadequate sleep, even just one night, can open you up to a slew of hormonal changes that negatively affect your metabolism.

In addition to the metabolic difficulties that occur when you don’t get enough sleep, there are negative cognitive (i.e. brain function) effects as well. I’m sure that you are familiar with the next day effects of staying up too late the night before. When I stay up too late watch Monday Night Football, I jokingly refer to my grogginess on Tuesday morning as my football hangover. 🙂

These short term effects are usually nothing that a cup of coffee can’t fix, but you may be surprised to know that there are negative long term effects on how your brain and memory function if you consistently get too little or too much sleep. These effects may not be evident until later in life.

As part of the Nurses’ Health Study (one of the largest and longest ongoing health studies in America), researchers from the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston examined the sleep habits and tested the cognitive function of over 15,000 women. Here’s the punchline from this study that will blow you away:

Using the data from this study, the researchers estimated that undersleepers and oversleepers were mentally two years older than the women who got seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night.

Ouch.

Here are 4 tips to help prevent this from being your fate as well.

  1. Make sleep a priority and schedule it – Don’t just go to sleep when you are tired. Determine what time you need to get up in the morning, back calculate 8 hours and make that the time you are in bed with the lights out. Not with the TV or your phone on either – lights out means lights out. The more consistent you are with your bedtime, the better you will be able to fall asleep.
  2. Don’t drink alcohol before bed – Having a glass of wine or night cap before bed might help you get to sleep faster (as research show that it does) but alcohol disrupts your natural sleep rhythms later in the night leading to worse sleep overall.
  3. Sleep in a cool room – When your body enters deep sleep it stops regulating your body temperature and your core body temperature actually drops. This is a natural part of the sleep cycle. If your room it too hot or you are too bundled up in blankets, you can interfere with these natural (and required) temperature fluctuations preventing optimal sleep.
  4. Avoid Stimulants after 3pm – We often rely on stimulants, like coffee and energy drinks, to keep us alert and focused (especially when we are sleep deprived) but these stimulants, when taken too late in the day, can negatively impact your body’s ability to fall asleep.

For lifelong brain health and optimal brain function it is important that sleep is a major priority. We sometimes neglect sleep in our efforts to crush everything and be uber productive in our daily lives, but running yourself into the ground is not a good long term strategy – for maximum productivity or brain function.

A 90 day clinical trial using one of the compounds found in Cerevan found that when taken in the morning, study participants reported greater ease falling asleep at night while also improving working memory and brain function. Click here to learn more about the clinical research behind the ingredients in Cerevan.

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  1. Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/3/17 | Eric Cressey | High Performance Training, Personal Training - March 3, 2017

    […] The Sleep Sweet Spot for Avoiding Memory Problems – This is a quick read from Dr. Mike Roussell; he covers the ever important – but commonly overlooked – topic of sleep. […]

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