I love the way I feel after a good night's sleep. My body is rested; my mind feels clear and alert; and I am happy to just linger in bed and relax. Of course, this delightful state is eventually interrupted by an alarm going off or the dog barking for me to feed him.
But I continue to feel good throughout the day if I slept well the night before. It's as if my entire system—my body and my brain—have been reset in a healthy way.
This good feeling may be a result of the anti-inflammatory effects of sleep. Chronic brain inflammation appears to contribute to cellular deterioration that can lead to Alzheimer's disease. Getting a good night's sleep has a positive impact on that inflammatory process and may explain why people who sleep well regularly often look younger and have more energy.
When scientists measure a volunteer's blood markers of inflammation, they find that after the volunteer has had a restful night of sleep, those measures improve significantly. These are the same measures that improve when we eat anti-inflammatory foods like omega-3 rich fish or olive oil. Dr. Wendy Troxel and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh have found that people with sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, fretful sleep, or loud snoring have a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, another condition linked to chronic inflammation that puts the brain at risk for neurodegeneration.
Scientific evidence tells us that actually sleeping on our problems is an efficient way to solve them. During sleep, our brain's memory centers are busy consolidating recall for more effective memory when we're awake. Sleeping well is an important way to improve your memory ability and may lower risk for cognitive decline.
Gary Small, MD, is director of UCLA's Longevity Center and co-author of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life.
Also visit me on www.DrGarySmall.com
Originally posted on HuffPost.com