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How Lack of Sleep Affects the Brain

The BBC reports that the largest study on the impact of sleep deprivation on the brain is underway in Canada. It will involve brain teasing tests and attempt to quantify the impact that lack of sleep has on cognition. 

Before I delve into how to improve your sleep, let's go over why it's so important to do so. You probably already know that sleep is important — and that you feel lousy after a night with barely any shuteye. You may be surprised by research which found even six hours of sleep may leave you functionally impaired, similar to being drunk. Worse still, you may not perceive this marked decline in performance.

In February 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that one in three U.S. adults don't get enough sleep. In this case, "enough" sleep was defined as seven or more hours per night, but many adults may need closer to eight hours per night. 

Your health depends on a regular light-dark cycle that, ideally, starts and stops at the same time each day. Late night artificial light exposure can profoundly influence your physical and mental health and well-being. EMF generating devices can severely disrupt circadian rhythms. You should strongly consider removing electronics from the vicinity of your bed and not using them within several hours of turning in.

It may seem challenging at first, but another goal should be creating a sleep environment that is completely free of light. Blackout drapes are an excellent starting point. I highly recommend investing in a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. I call them reverse sunglasses and wear them in most commercial buildings. Artificial blue light should be avoided at all times and these affordable glasses reduce the harmful impact of high intensity and LED lighting.

A few other easy to implement tweaks are avoiding alcohol, caffeine and other drugs including nicotine for several hours before bed. I also recommend keeping the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees F.  Rejuvenating sleep is one of the fundamental foundations of health, but for millions it is a challenge. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help make sleep a respite rather than a source of frustration.
 
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