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What Sleeping Less Than 6 Hours A Night Does To Your Brain

Anish Vij

Published 
| Last updated 

What Sleeping Less Than 6 Hours A Night Does To Your Brain

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

An expert has explained what happens to your brain when you get less than six hours of sleep.

Dr Rebecca Robbins told the Telegraph that just a one hour change in sleep is enough to make a significant difference.

The instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School said: "One hour can indeed be enough to throw our internal clock out of sync.

"When we change our sleep schedules by an hour or longer from one day to the next, we are sending signals to the brain that we are attempting to transition to a new time zone, making the next night's sleep challenging."

Dr Robbins is also an associate scientist at the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women's Hospital and she says toxins released by the brain can potentially lead to serious consequences.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

She added: "We discovered that over the course of the day, the brain produces toxins, the accumulation of which is associated with neurocognitive decline such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

"There is one very interesting study that has looked at rhinovirus, a sister pathogen of SARS-Cov-2.

"The researchers found that those who are sleep-deprived had more than a twofold greater risk of colds and flu.

"In those people who are vaccinated, we see an increased development of antibodies to combat the viral pathogen, and that's accelerated when you couple vaccine appointments with healthy sleep duration."

The expert says that setting a consistent bedtime is crucial to help get a better night's kip.

"It's a really common mistake, but just as children need set bedtime routines, so do we," she said.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Dr Robbins also suggested that not going on your phone prior to bed is important, along with meditation to help fall asleep straight away.

For those people who find it hard to go back to sleep after getting disturbed in the night, Dr Robbins advised to not be tempted to look at your phone.

She said: "When it comes to this wake-up, resist looking at your phone and get out of bed and try sitting in an armchair or in a cross-legged position on the floor and doing a meditation or visualisation exercise."

The expert also claimed that sleeping in a cooler room, around 18C, helps and if you're a fan of power naps, keep them to 20 minutes.

She concluded: "Naps can absolutely be part of a healthy sleep routine.

"But I recommend sticking to 20 minutes unless you've had a really terrible night's sleep when you can stretch it to 90 minutes."

Topics: Sleep

Anish Vij
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