Too short sleep is followed by a feeling of tiredness, bad mood and reduced ability to perform intellectual tasks, indicating that sleep loss does something bad for our brains.
During sleep, brain does not receive information from outside world, creating an opportunity for internal processing. It is suggested that this processing is important for the neural plasticity that is associated with learning and memory. Memory functions, particularly memory consolidation, benefit from sleep, as evidenced by an impressive number of scietific studies. Researchers have many theories of the actual molecular events within brain that result in memory consolidation during sleep, but it is clear that:
Sleep is good for learning
Sleep and depression have a bidirectional connection: almost all patients with depression have disturbed sleep, and on the other hand, sleep disturbances predispose to depression. This connection may create a vicious circle, which is difficult to stop. Thus not only regulation of cognitive functions but also regulation of emotional functions is adversely affected by loss of sleep.
Sleep is good for mood
The idea that sleep is for the brain has almost overshadowed the possibility that also the rest of the body suffers from lack of sleep. Epidemiologists have discovered that short/bad quality sleep is associated with several common diseases and conditions, including obesitas, type 2 diabetes, cardiometabolic diseases, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Experimental studies have complemented these findings, showing that experimental sleep restriction induces in young, healthy volunteers symptoms of type 2diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases, as well as increased caloric intake. It is now widely appreciated that sleep loss induces a state of low-grade inflammation, which is associated with a number of common diseases.
Sleep is good for health
Sleep is highly individual and it is regarded as a private domain. But is it solely private? The consequences of sleep loss are frequently evidenced in form of high accident rates in traffic and shift work-requiring sectors. Most societies provide legislation that aims at minimizing the hazards of working under sleep loss. In spite of that, many road accidents and catastrophes in industry take place, when the workers are tired, typically in the very early morning hours. As shift-work is mandatory in sectors related to public safety, much research is targeted to minimize the consequences of circadian disturbances and related sleep loss.
Sleep is good for safety