As recently as 50 years ago, sleeping was considered a passive part of our daily lives. Thanks to extensive research, we now know that your brain remains active while you're sleeping, and that getting enough sleep is extremely beneficial to your physical and mental health and could have an effect on insomnia.
Sleep is necessary to proper functioning of the nervous system. Some experts claim that sleep allows the neurons (brain cells) that are extremely active throughout the day a chance to recover. When you don't get enough sleep, your neurons may become so depleted that they begin to malfunction. In addition, deep sleep is related to increased production of proteins. Since proteins are the building blocks of your body and they're also responsible for repairing damaged cells, sleep is clearly a crucial component of your brain fitness.
Scientists around the world are still trying to learn why exactly we need sleep. In the meantime, data collected from a series of studies is already showing how important sleep is to our survival. Below are some of the findings that support the notion that sleep is beneficial and that lack of sleep can damage your cognitive development.
Tests of motor skills, visual discrimination, novel-language perception and insight formation showed that subjects who were tested during a 12-hour period that included some sleep time showed significant improvement in performance over those who spent a 12-hour period without sleep.
In another study, users were tested on a variety of neuro-cognitive tests during a period of 14 days, in which sleep restrictions of 4, 6 and 8 hours each night were imposed. It was found that sleeping only 4-to-6 hours a night for just two weeks produced cognitive performance deficits in psychomotor vigilance, working memory and cognitive throughput. These performance deficits were the equivalent to as many as 2 nights of total sleep deprivation.
Partial sleep deprivation (PSD) is defined by a sleep period of less than 5 hours in a 24-hour period. Traditionally, PSD is known to affect mood and cognitive performance, resulting in decreased reaction time, less vigilance, an increase in perceptual and cognitive distortions, and changes in affect.
It was recently shown that a single night of sleep deprivation produced a significant deficit in hippocampal activity during an episodic memory-encoding phase, resulting in reduced retention rates. In other words, it was found that sleep deprivation can create a deficit in the brain's ability to form new memories