Optimal brain function requires optimal brain health and optimal brain health requires adequate sleeping hours. In other words, being sleep deprived can lead to serious negative consequences for brain health and function.
It’s been said over and over how important it is to get enough sleep:
- how the lost of one hour of sleep a night can make a sixth grader function at the level of a fourth grader
- how insufficient sleep affects academic performance
- how lack of sleep increases health risks
A study has even demonstrated that functioning when sleep deprived is as bad as, or worse, than being drunk.
After 17–19 hours without sleep, corresponding to 2230 and 0100, performance on some tests was equivalent or worse than that at a BAC of 0.05%. Response speeds were up to 50% slower for some tests and accuracy measures were significantly poorer than at this level of alcohol. After longer periods without sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to the maximum alcohol dose given to subjects (BAC of 0.1%). – Occup Environ Med (2000)
Yet, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice when we want more time to study for that exam, to finish that assignment, to complete that business proposal, or to finalise the year-end budgets. If something needs doing, sleep is the first thing to go out the door.
However, if we want to push past our limits and extend our performance, we must look after our brains and make sure it gets all the necessary requirements to function optimally. One critical requirement that our brains must have is to get enough sleep.
I love the following infographic from BrainMic because it gives a terrific run down of what happens to our brains when we don’t get enough sleep…
It’s plain and simple – if you want to reach your full potential, you need to sleep.