Smart sleep

Blog on Brain Training

Smart sleep

2015-05-02 06:27:27

Human needs to sleep. Sleeping is a very important physiological process, which preserve brain health by optimizing cognitive performance and consolidating memory. During long, deep sleep the spinal fluid quite literally whisking away waste product from brain cells. It is mean, that when you wake up, your mind is fresh, clean and sharp. Too little sleep could badly impairs cognitive performance, and too much brings some other, negative health outcomes. Graphic below shows, how much sleep do you need every day to maintain health and brain sharpness.

smart sleep

Sleep research has been already performed a century ago. Strong evidence suggest, that during sleep memory consolidate and creativity enhance. The cognitive performance is strongest a few hours after long sleep, and it is a good reason for performing the computerized cognitive training on the early hours (Dresler et al., 2013). On the other hand memory consolidate during sleep, so you can try late training sessions and check, which options is best for you.

Especially procedural memory consolidate during the long hours sleep. It a kind of memory needed for performing motor skills, like playing piano or training karate. Declarative memory, memory for words etc., consolidate even during a few minutes nap and you can use it too - just take a nap right after intensive computerized cognitive training or after your learning session. But also be careful with the napping. One big study suggest, that napping is an important factor, which increase the relative risk of all-cause mortality (Leng et al., 2014). It seems, that the more important and healthier is the long session of sleep, appropriate to the age.

Short sleep brings some healthy issues, as well as too long sleep. However the short sleep also decrease cognitive performance. In some research healthy adults after six-hour night sleep performed on cognitive tests on the same level, as people after alcohol. But also people with insomnia have lower daytime cognitive performance (Fortier-Brochu, 2012). It is because the quality of sleep is as important, as the sleep duration.

Most problems with sleep are effect of the light pollution. We use the artificial sources of light, bulbs, cellphones and monitors late evening hours. Especially the blue light influence the body circadian clock and also is related with few serious health problem. Harvard Medical School gives some advises, how to improve the night sleep:

  • Use rather dim red light at night, instead of bright, blue one.
  • Three or two hours before sleep avoid using the bright screens, like monitors or cellphones. If it is impossible, use the blue light filters programs, for example the Red Shift or Flux.
  • During the day use as much bright light, as possible. Blue light probably improve performance, mood and attention.
  • If you are a night shift worker or you work late with the bright screens, you could try the blue-light blocking glasses.
  • Before sleep you can use some triggers for good sleep, because the sleep seems to be habitual. You can try the hot herb beverages filled with phytochemicals (avoid caffeine), take a hot bath or try meditation.

Good night folks!

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Dresler, Martin, et al. "Non-pharmacological cognitive enhancement." Neuropharmacology 64 (2013): 529-543.

Fortier-Brochu, Émilie, et al. "Insomnia and daytime cognitive performance: a meta-analysis." Sleep medicine reviews 16.1 (2012): 83-94.

Hirshkowitz, Max, et al. "National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary." Sleep Health 1.1 (2015): 40-43.

Leng, Yue, et al. "Daytime napping and the risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a 13-year follow-up of a British population." American journal of epidemiology 179.9 (2014): 1115-1124.