Do you feel like you just can’t learn and remember things the way you used to? Before you start to blame your age, get this: it might actually be because you’re not getting enough sleep.
Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London found that getting good sleep helps people learn and remember better. They taught volunteers words from a made-up language – words that were characterized by a rule relating them to one another. And though the participants could figure out the rule, it was only after getting sufficient rest that they were able to apply that rule to understand new words they hadn’t learned yet. The study was published in the journal Cognitive Psychology.
It seems your brain needs rest to help you absorb and process knowledge. And it’s not just your learning and memory that’s affected by a lack of sleep. A whole host of other unpleasant effects can be blamed on not getting enough Zs.
The notion of “beauty sleep” is no myth! Science has shown that when you’re not well-rested, you look less healthy and less attractive to others. And since your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol when you’re lacking sleep, continued sleep loss can lead to a breakdown of collagen, causing premature aging and wrinkles.
Who knew lying in bed could be good for weight management? Not getting enough sleep can actually make you 30% more likely to become obese, slow your metabolism, and make it harder for you to resist temptation when it comes to food.
It’s no surprise that when you’re tired, you’re cranky. But sleep deprivation has also been linked to depression, with those getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night far more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
Spending quality time with family and friends requires energy – something you don’t have much of when you don’t get enough sleep. Romance? Forget about it! When you’re tired, it’s hard to get into “the mood.” In both men and women, sleep deprivation lowers libido, and lack of intimacy can cause stress and tension in romantic relationships.
Accidents happen and with far greater frequency when you’re sleep deprived. In fact, the National Highway Safety Administration suggests that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving and may be responsible for up to 5,000 – 6,000 fatal accidents each year!
Long-term sleep loss has long-term consequences on your health. Your risk of developing a chronic condition like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or stroke increases when you don’t get enough rest. And these conditions can impact your quality of life as well as your longevity.
May is Better Sleep Month, so it’s the perfect time to overhaul your sleeping habits. And if you’re having trouble sleeping, check out 5 Steps to Better Sleep so you can start your days refreshed and ready to go!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.