A lack of sleep will have a negative impact on your cognitive performance. Sleep is important for not only resting the brain, but consolidating memories and learning from our experiences the previous day. Brain research as recently as 2012 showed that whilst we sleep our glymphatic system cleans our brains, removing neurotoxins overnight. This process takes between seven and nine hours depending on the person and we require undisturbed sleep throughout this process. Not getting regular good quality sleep will allow these neurotoxins to accumulate, which can eventually lead to degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in old age.On a more short term basis, population norm studies have shown that any disruption to a good night’s sleep can reduce your working IQ by as much as five to eight points the next day. Furthermore, a whole night’s lost sleep can cause up to one standard deviation loss of IQ, which means the brain is effectively working as if with a learning disability.

There are some people who think they can function effectively on four to six hours sleep a night, however these people are a genetic anomaly and might actually be doing irreparable long-term harm to their brain.

  • Ensure you get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep every night.
  • Avoid using your smartphone for an hour before bed. The pineal gland, which secretes the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, is triggered by darkness. The blue light that phone and laptop screens emit confuses the gland into thinking it is daytime and therefore falling asleep as well as the quality of our sleep, can be negatively impacted.
  • Try to sleep in complete darkness, with no stand-by lights in the bedroom and with black out curtains or by wearing an eye mask.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least two hours before your bed time, as your sleep is disrupted whilst your body metabolises the alcohol to detoxify your system.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks after 2pm, as the half-life of caffeine is eight to ten hours which can disturb your sleep.
  • Try napping during the day. This can give your brain a boost and reinvigorate it. A 30 minute nap improves your learning and memory. A 60 – 90 min nap will support the formation of new neural connections, which aids creativity and helps retain information.



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