Brain Bulletin #92 - Is your brain getting enough sleep?

in Brain Bulletin

Ask yourself are you getting enough sleep?

Miguel de Cervantes once observed, "From reading too much, and sleeping too little, his brain dried up on him and he lost his judgment."

Miguel was partly right. Adequate sleep is very important for your brain health. Sleep deprivation is one of the sentinel risk factors for Alzheimer's. In addition, cancer, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, infections, and obesity have all been linked to less sleep.

Modern life, with all of its gadgets, make it tempting to cut back on sleep. Prof Russell Foster (Oxford) says we are getting about 90 minutes less sleep than 60 years ago.

Indeed, there are lots of things that interfere with sleep and we have discussed these in previous Brain Bulletins. Here is an interesting new 'culprit' light.

Light is a powerful synchronizer of your body clock and blue light, especially late at night, can keep you up later and cut your sleep.

Here's what professor Charles Czeisler (Harvard) recently told the BBC, "Light exposure, especially short wavelength blueish light in the evening, will reset our circadian rhythms to a later hour, postponing the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and making it more difficult for us to get up in the morning.

It's a big concern that we're being exposed to much more light, sleeping less and, as a consequence, may suffer from many chronic diseases."

Blue light is emitted from smart phones, tablets, some energy efficient light bulbs, and computers. This type of light is right in the 'sweet spot' disrupting your body clock.

So here's a suggestion: Try to shut it down and hour before bed. Dim the lights a bit. This signals your brain that it's time for sleep.

More suggestions for improving your sleep can be found here:

Take your sleep seriously. Your brain will thank you.

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My favorite book this month: "Sleeping with your Smartphone - How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way Your Work" by Leslie Perlow. Solid advice for these busy times.

It has been an interesting couple of months. Highlights included presentations in California, Switzerland, Victoria, Pt. Alberni, Prince George, and of course lots of stuff in the Vancouver area. I really enjoy speaking about the brain and leadership, wellness, and learning.

June is World Cup month (and I have my busiest June ever). Lots of PVRing. I am off to Harrison to keynote the First West Leader's Summit, then on to Kelowna to keynote the Canadian Chemical Distributors Assoc. Conference, back to Vancouver for 5 presentations, then to Saanich. A quick breather then keynoting "Brain Bike Fest" in Vermont. Finishing with a presentation in Montreux, Switzerland. How am I going to fit the World Cup games in.....?