ZZZ...

Six scientific reasons why your brain needs you to sleep more

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Ah, the mystery of sleep. We need so much of it, and yet scientists still don’t fully understand why.

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But we do have an idea of what can happen if we don’t sleep: conditions like fatal familial insomnia, if untreated, can be deadly.

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Getting proper shut-eye has a whole slew of benefits for the body.

But your brain, especially, gets a huge boost from sleep — in some ways more unexpected than others.

Here are 6 ways getting enough sleep can benefit brain health:

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6. Boosts memory

Over a century of research links good sleep to higher memory retention.

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REM sleep — your deepest stage of sleep where dreams occur — likely helps solidify memories.

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But scientists have found slow-wave sleep, known as deep sleep, also plays an important role in consolidating everything you learned during the day.

5. Curbs anxiety

Good sleep is essential for regulating stress hormones, which could otherwise cause anxiety.

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A study published in 2018 in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that loss of sleep triggered higher anxiety levels in women rather than men.

4. Encourages healthy brain development

Teenagers sleep a lot, and for good reason: shut-eye is essential for brains to grow properly.

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The presence of developmental and psychiatric disorders often correlate with disrupted sleep during adolescence, according to a 2016 study.

The authors note that disruptions can come from school start times, technology, or extracurricular activities.

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Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Sleep found teenage students taking classes from home during the Covid-19 pandemic got much more sleep than their peers.

3. Regulates emotions

You might feel this effect more than others.

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When you’re tired, you might find yourself more irritable or cranky. In turn, that can warp your judgmentand might set you up to make impulsive decisions or choices based solely on your sour mood.

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Sleep deprivation’s effects on mood are well-documented: it can make us feel more negative than positive.

2. Prevents cognitive decline

Studies suggest poor sleep quality can put you at a heightened risk for conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Meanwhile, research suggests untreated sleep apnea might prevent the brain from clearing out plaque that can heighten dementia risk.

1. Improves concentration

No, you aren’t just imagining things if your mind feels a little off after a bad night’s sleep.

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Research has repeatedly linked sleep deprivation with poor cognitive performance — so your alertness during the day means more than just how awake you feel.

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And as you get older, it can be more difficult for your brain to cope with sleep deprivation. It’s best to work on your sleep hygiene while you’re young.

Read more stories about health here.

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