Sleep Matters to Gray Matter: It is Smart to Get Your Sleep

The frontal lobe of a person’s brain plays a very important role in the functioning of the mind, and the amount of gray matter we have is considered by some to be an indicator of intelligence level. So, it may interest you to find out that there may be a connection between having a low amount of gray matter in the frontal lobe of the brain and having sleep problems. In fact, sleep matters to gray matter, as the quality and amount of sleep we get may actually increase the amount of gray matter.

Can sleep really make you smarter? A study was performed with Gulf War vets, wherein sleep quality seemed to be a good indicator of gray matter levels in the frontal lobe. Of course, factors such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also were taken into consideration. If the study’s results are accurate, the amount and quality of sleep we get from night to night could determine if we were reaching our full mental potential. Do you want to excel in school? Make sure you go to bed early enough each night. Do you want that competitive edge in the workplace? Sleep on it—literally.

While your fellow students or coworkers are out living it up, you could be at home increasing your gray matter by sleeping. It may seem like an unfair trade-off, but consider this: Would you rather wear yourself out each day, or, would you like to have your brain operating at full capacity the entire time you are awake? The answer is a no-brainer (pun intended).

If you struggle to sleep at night, you’re not alone. Tens of millions of Americans are tossing and turning just like you. Luckily, there are things that you can do at home to help. (1) Eliminate distractions like mobile electronic devices at bedtime. (2) Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. (3) Utilize white noise. (4) Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

Sometimes, though, sleep is not that simple. When that happens, it’s best to consult a sleep specialist who can help you with your insomnia. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that acquiring sleep debt is harmless. The worst effects of sleep deprivation often don’t catch up to a person as quickly as other unhealthy practices but even short-term sleep problems can affect our overall health and well-being. Long-term it may even impact our intelligence because sleep matters to gray matter.