The association of poor sleep and cognitive impairment has been well-studied. There are immediate, short-term and long-term cognitive benefits of good sleep.
Immediate Effects of Poor Sleep on Brain Function
Immediately, bad sleep can mean decreased concentration, slow reaction time and less control of motor actions. In fact, people who are sleep-deprived have been shown to be as cognitively impaired as those who were legally drunk.
Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain Function
In addition to the continual hurdle of side effects that often come with a single sleepless night, there are additional concerns when those sleepless nights start adding up.
Thousands of genes within the brain depend upon consistent quality sleep for their regulation. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to suffer from depression and have lower cognitive function, including forgetfulness.
Sleep’s Long-Term Effects on Brain Function
Researchers have found that, by improving sleep, a person should be able to reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease—or at least delay its onset.
Clinical studies of middle-aged and older adults have shown that, among those who were successfully treated for sleep disorders, the rate of cognitive decline significantly slowed and the onset of Alzheimer’s was delayed by five to ten years.