Sleep Appears To Restore Our Emotional Brain Circuits

Sleep & Emotional Regulation: “Sleep appears to restore our emotional brain circuits, and in doing so prepares us for the next day’s challenges and social interactions.”
Sleep deprivation activates emotional centers of the brain(amygdala) by as much as 60%, and decreases the regulatory centers (the prefrontal cortex), as viewed on fMRI.

Sleep & Anxiety:  The causal relationship between sleep and anxiety has now been shown by multiple studies. While it is commonly known that people with anxiety have disrupted sleep, more evidence is showing that decreased sleep further increases anxiety. Fortunately, this trend has been shown to reverse itself with improved sleep function.

Sleep & Depression: The causal relationship between chronic poor sleep and depression is also becoming more clear.  Multiple mechanisms appear to be involved, including altered blood sugar regulation, poor emotional processing during REM sleep,  as well as increased general inflammation.

Sleep & Dementia: Amyloid plaque build-up in the brain is associated with many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.  The brain has a nightly cleaning mechanism called the glymphatic system, which eliminates amyloid buildup from the day. However, this vital detox system only occurs during deep sleep (Stage 3 Non-REM Sleep).  One recent study showed amyloid increased in the brain by 5%after only one night of poor sleep!  

A Few Tips:

Increase blue light in the morning:  Light is one of the most powerful modifiers of our circadian rhythm.  Getting 10-15 minutes of sunlight outside, shortly after waking, sets our circadian clock for the day. The increased amount of blue light activates our “waking” centers during the day, naturally make it easier to fall asleep later that night.  

Reduce blue light after sunset:  Conversely, artificial blue light from LED lights, and computer and TV screens continues to activate our “waking” centers of the brain long after the sun has set.  Try reducing exposure to such sources of blue light, or wear blue light-blocking glasses after sunset.

Take a hot bath or shower before bed: Another significant factor in regulating sleep is core body temperature.  Taking a warm bath or shower before bed actually lowers your core body temperature, which is necessary to successfully initiate sleep.  

This blog is reposted and all credit belongs to Dr Giancarlo Licata, Founder, Vital Head & Spine.

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