by Julianne Mercer, Negosentro.com |
While various studies differ on how much sleep most people get on average, it’s safe to say that quite a few don’t get as much as they need. A lack of sleep does more than leave people feeling groggy in the morning.
Sleep that is short on duration and not particularly deep has a significant impact on the body and mind. That includes the ability to concentrate. Here are some of the direct and indirect ways that a lack of sleep will affect your ability to focus on whatever task is at hand.
How Sleeps Affects the Assimilation of Information
Many people tend to think of assimilating information as something that occurs during the waking hours. It’s true that much of that process does occur while people are awake. What is often overlooked is how recuperative sleep plays a significant role in how well we retain and put to use the information that we encounter.
One idea about learning and memory breaks it down in three distinct phases. The first is known as acquisition. During this phase, people receive new information.
Consolidation is used to refer to the phase in which the mind integrates that data with what the person already knows. This in turn makes it possible for the third phase, recall, to occur.
Recall and acquisition occur primarily during the waking hours. Consolidation occurs to a great extent while the person sleeps.
Think of it as a time when the mind is organizing the information as the body is recovering from the physical stresses of the day. When the sleep is interrupted or not deep enough, the consolidation phase is less effective.
Sleep and Physical Distractions
Another way that sleep plays a role in concentration has to do with physical distractions. Those 7 to 8 hours of sleep provide the opportunity for the muscles and nerves to relax and prepare for the day to come.
Without proper sleep, discomfort to your neck and back as well as other parts of the body are more likely. When you are experiencing physical pain and concentrate on a task at the same time, the process is extremely difficult. At best, you will be unable to focus enough to get the most from the experience.
Sleep and General Decline of Emotional Balance
The failure to get a sufficient amount of recuperative sleep also puts you at risk for emotional issues. You may find your temper flares with little to no provocation. Maybe your general outlook on life is negative. Things that normally don’t bother you become major distractions.
The imbalance created by a lack of sleep make it almost impossible to concentrate. With so many things grabbing your attention and causing angst, focusing on writing a term paper or preparing a proposal for work becomes difficult at best.
Motivation is Affected Too
One of the reasons you find it harder to concentrate is the fact that poor sleep saps motivation. Your inability to concentrate is enhanced because you simply don’t feel like trying to focus on the task you need to address right this minute. With no real motivation to keep going, it’s all the easier to turn your attention to other tasks that require little to no concentration and put off that more important task for another time.
Up to a point, it’s possible to work around the lack of motivation. This is especially true when you are taking care of tasks that require little focus on your part. Things become more problematic when deadlines are looming and you can’t find it in you to set those less important projects aside and tackle what should be your priority of the moment.
The bottom line is that you need restful sleep in order to be at your best. Sleep eliminates the factors that can impair your ability to take in data, relate it to what you already know, and put it to good use. Greater mental clarity means you are able to take on tasks, see how to manage them effectively, and complete them without feeling distracted or unsure of how to proceed.
If you are having trouble sleeping, now is the time to seek professional help. Talk with your doctor and explore the options for treatment. After enjoying several nights of recuperative sleep in a row, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel physically and what a difference it makes in your ability to concentrate.