We’ve all heard that getting enough sleep is important, but did you know that lack of sleep can actually affect your brain?
According to the National Institute of Health, teenagers should sleep nine to 10 hours a day, and adults need seven to eight hours a day. Why? Because your brain, like any other machine, needs to power off, recharge and reboot. If not, you’ll experience some serious neurological malfunctions.
What does a lack of sleep do to the mind? Yellowbrick’s staff psychiatrist Dr. Marc Sandrolini says chronic lack of sleep impairs thinking, alters emotions, and interferes with social abilities.
“Poor sleep can make it hard to judge other people’s emotions and reactions. Sleep deficiency can make you feel frustrated, irritable or anxious in social situations,” he says. “A sleepy brain is an anxious brain.”
Chronic lack of sleep is comparable to being under the influence of alcohol. In both cases, inhabitations are in utter disarray. The intoxicated individual and sleep-deprived individual are both out of sorts in their minds, unable to make rational decisions that they otherwise would make when sober or well rested.
“Chronic poor sleep has been linked to increased risk for depression, suicide, and reckless behavior,” Sandrolini says. “It is difficult to exercise good judgment and impulse-control when sleep-deprived.”
Sleep is a commodity that modern society has deemed unproductive. But in reality, the less sleep we get, the more unproductive we become.
Young adults are the biggest demographic of people not getting enough sleep. In fact, when Sandrolini asked young adults why they do not value sleep, they told him that sleeping is a waste of time.
“They feel that they’re so busy that the late evening is the only time they have for themselves,” Sandrolini explains. “They want to get the most out of their time, and sleep seems to get in the way.”
Many young adults think they can stay up late some nights and make up for it by sleeping at other times, but Sandrolini says this doesn’t work.
“A common myth is that one can ‘catch up’ on sleep by napping or sleeping in on weekends,” he says. “This is unfortunately not the case. Nothing can take the place of regular nighttime sleep.”
Sandrolini explains that your brain is a machine that continuously processes information. Sleep is the time where your machine sorts the day’s informational overload into labeled files. Look at it this way — your brain is your own personal computer that stores things in an orderly filing cabinet for easy retrieval. So do not overwork your machine. It needs a break, too.
“We sleep best when we disconnect our brain a little from the fireworks of daily life,” Sandrolini says.
At Yellowbrick, staff members teach young adults how to develop healthy sleep habits so they can be at the top of their mental game. Here are some healthy habits and tips that ensure you stick to a sleep routine:
Find out more about Yellowbrick’s Neuropsychological Testing of Cognitive Functioning.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.