Friday, October 7, 2011

Deep Sleep

Can’t remember the last time you slept through the night? Without uninterrupted sleep, your memory suffers. Deep sleep is key.
Sleep experts already know that lack of sleep impacts brain function, affecting concentration, attention and memory. But a new study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that even if you’re clocking eight hours of sleep time, if some of those hours aren’t uninterrupted, memory consolidation (when your brain backs up all the information you’ve gathered in the past day) is impaired. This is especially important for people who suffer from sleep apnea and other disorders that interrupt sleep.

The study didn’t reach any conclusions about the amount of continuous sleep needed, but it’s likely that deep sleep is what’s important for the memory consolidation process to work.
To help improve the quality of your sleep, avoid drinking alcohol in the evenings. Amazingly, it’s the most commonly used sleeping aid, and yet it’s also one of the most ineffective! Yes, alcohol makes you feel drowsy, and, yes, it can help you initially fall asleep. But once alcohol’s relaxing effects have worn off, your body experiences rebound arousal and insomnia. Plus, alcohol usually suppresses deep sleep and causes lighter, fragmented sleep with more awakenings.

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