Psychologist: Why We Feel Groggy After A Poor Night’s Sleep

Written by Koru Health Editorial Staff

Updated May 2, 2024

Sleep is essential for our cognitive health, according to psychologist Emma Hockley. In a recent conversation with Judy Bailey, Emma explains how sleep has the power to detox our brains – but only if we get enough of it.

Emma Hockley is a psychologist working within multidisciplinary teams in the public sector and in private practice.

Emma Hockley is a registered psychologist with a rich background in clinical practice. With extensive experience both in New Zealand and previously in the UK, Emma’s holistic approach underscores the critical interplay between lifestyle and mental health.

Hockley says, “Sleep is our brain’s housekeeper.” At night, it’s crucial that our minds tidy up, sorting through the day’s thoughts. This helps us start the next day with a clean slate.

Without enough sleep, we wake up with leftover mental clutter. “You kind of wake up and you’ve still got all that stuff in your head,” Hockley notes. This makes it tough to face a new day.

Recent studies published in Nature Communications in 2022 found that optimal sleep enhances alertness and significantly improves executive functions like problem-solving and decision-making.

A diagram illustrating the sleep cycles during the night, showing five cycles composed of different stages: Wake, REM (Rapid Eye Movement), and Non-REM stages 1 through 4. The graph uses color blocks to differentiate each stage, with Wake and REM stages in orange, light sleep stages in lighter blue, and deep sleep stages in darker blue.
This chart illustrates the sequence of sleep cycles throughout the night, highlighting the transitions between REM, light, and deep sleep stages critical for cognitive and psychological rejuvenation as discussed by Emma Hockley.

Another study from 2023, featured in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, reveals how sleep promotes brain health by facilitating the removal of neurotoxic waste through cerebrospinal fluid and melatonin rhythms. Participants reported less brain fog and more mental clarity with better sleep quality.

Hockley, with her extensive experience in psychology, underscores the importance of these findings. “Sleep clears out the toxins that build up in the brain,” she adds, highlighting the physical processes behind our mental refreshment.

For those struggling with daily stress, Hockley advises prioritizing quality sleep to maintain mental clarity and emotional stability.

Her guidance, supported by cutting-edge research, serves as a powerful reminder of sleep’s crucial role in our health and daily performance.

For anyone feeling overwhelmed by daily stress, Hockley’s advice is to prioritize good sleep. “During night time, we need a certain amount of sleep to kind of file all those thoughts away,” she explains.

Judy Bailey recently overcame her own struggles with sleep. You can read her story here.