Want To Mind Your Brain As You Age? Be Sure To Get Enough Quality Sleep
When it comes to feeling our best in the long run, there are so many factors to consider, from heart health to metabolic health and, of course, brain health. And in the case of keeping our brains healthy, one factor that's often left out of the equation is sleep.
Why sleep is so essential to brain health.
In this way, sleep has a neuroprotective purpose, and it can protect us from some of the cognitive health changes often seen in older age. One 2015 study2 notes that sleep has been linked with improved memory recall and reduced mental fatigue, among other things. "When one sleeps, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself and removes toxic waste byproducts, which have accumulated throughout the day. This evidence demonstrates that sleeping can clear the brain and help maintain its normal functioning," the study authors write.
However, this study also indicates that a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night "seems to be necessary for proper cognitive and behavioral function." As mbg vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, noted in the podcast with Brownlow, over one-third of American adults3 aren't meeting this threshold.
Beyond brain health.
If brain health isn't enough to convince you, research continues to show that the impacts of quality sleep are far-reaching. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say getting consistent quality sleep touches virtually every aspect of our overall health4, from mood to energy levels to metabolic health, heart health, hormone regulation, gene expression, and so much more.
So, no matter what aspect of health you're looking to improve, if you're not getting enough sleep every night, you can bet that's a good place to start.
And to that end, there are a handful of things you can do to get better sleep each night. For one thing, having a bedroom that's cool, quiet, and dark never hurts. It's also important to keep a consistent sleep schedule (aka going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day) to keep your circadian rhythm regulated.
Whether you want to keep your brain healthy as you age or simply have more energy during your day-to-day, getting quality sleep on a regular basis is essential. And the best part is, when you do get consistent, quality sleep, your brain isn't the only thing that will benefit.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.