Solve problems with sleep: Lack of sleep can impact brain performance
We all know what it’s like when we don’t get enough sleep – the next day you can feel foggy, find it hard to concentrate or just want to doze off.
According to emeritus professor Dorothy Bruck, chair of the Sleep Health Foundation Australia, lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment and our perception of events.
“While scientists don’t yet know exactly why we sleep, we know it is vital for both our physical and mental restoration,” Dorothy said.
“Certain behaviours that are vital to our ability to function become impaired when we are sleep deprived.”
It can be hard to concentrate on tasks, learn new things or use our memory effectively.
In fact, research shows that if you have been awake for 18 hours your reaction time and ability to concentrate is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 per cent.
“The first things that suffer are related to our brain function. We can’t hold our attention, our memory becomes poorer, our reactions are slowed and our mood fluctuates more than normal,” Dorothy said.
“If inadequate sleep continues to occur regularly we find that our physical and mental health may be at risk.”
“The likelihood of depression increases, it seems likely our immune system suffers and we are at higher risk for metabolic impairments, such as those leading to diabetes.”
“Our performance at work is impaired and there is a higher chance of driving accidents.”
Researchers have shown that if we reduce sleep to five hours per night over a week people make more risky decisions, act more impulsively and have poorer judgement compared to those allowed to sleep for eight hours each night.
“While we have all heard a lot over the years about the importance of a good diet and regular exercise, the importance of sleep has received less attention,” Dorothy said.
“The Sleep Health Foundation argues that sleep is the third pillar of health, alongside diet and exercise.”
“Interestingly, the recent Parliamentary Report on Sleep Health Awareness (entitled Bedtime Reading) agrees with this assessment and also argues sleep should become a national health priority.”
If you have problems with trying to get to sleep and then staying asleep see the Sleep Health Foundation’s top ten tips for a better night’s sleep.
People with untreated sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea may have more trouble getting to sleep and often report trouble concentrating, remembering information or completing daily tasks.
The good news is, that if your sleep disorder is effectively treated many of the problems you experience will improve.
If you suspect you have a sleep disorder see your GP.
About Dental Sleep Medicine at The Beacon Dental Clinic
As director of the Beacon Dental Group Dr Edward G Owens is a hospital affiliated Prosthodontist. He has been working successfully with oral appliances to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea since 1997.
He collaborates with major hospital sleep disorder clinics and has been active in the management of oral sleep appliances and the development of Dental Sleep Medicine in Ireland.
For further information on Sleep Apnoea Treatment, contact us today