Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dementia and Sleep

I’m sure we are all aware of the importance of sleep.  Without sleep we are grouchy, less productive, sluggish, and just not focused.  Why is this true?  The answer might help entice you to improve your lifestyle so as to improve the quality and amount of sleep you get each night.
The brain is the processing center for all we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. It helps us know the difference between right and wrong as well as right and left.  It tells our heart to beat, our kidneys to filter, and our bladder to speak to us several times a day. 
The brain also takes new information and places that information in permanent storage facilities throughout the brain.  However, the brains ability to move that information is dependent upon good quality sleep.
Sleep is measured in five stages.  Each stage progresses toward a deeper sleep.  The deepest stage is referred to as REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep.   According to about.com, “On average, we enter the REM stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer. REM sleep can last up to an hour as sleep progresses.”
Why is REM sleep so important.  It is during REM sleep that new information gained throughout the day is moved from the hippocampus (which is a temporary filing facility for the brain) to a place in the brain where it will live permanently.  If REM sleep is not achieved, the brain will lose that information. 
Staying up all night to study, for example, is not as beneficial as studying and then taking a few hours to sleep.  During those few hours the brain can move the new information learned to a permanent location in the brain.  Later, when the new information is needed, it is available for recall.
We all will agree that sleep is a good thing.  Who knew it could be so productive?
Hope that gives you SOMETHING TO PONDER.