We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Some people would say that this is a waste of precious time. But sleep helps our bodies in many ways, some of which you probably didn’t know about.
Sleeping is a very important part of good health and well being. It can be even more important than eating. You probably already know that sleep helps you rest up so you have more energy, and improves your mood. But did you know that sleeping is also crucial to your brain functions? Your brain does not sleep when you sleep, like your body does.
Here’s more on how sleep helps your brain functions.
When you sleep, your brain uses this time to go through and organize information. This is how you form new memories and consolidate old ones to make associations. This activity happens in your hippocampus during all stages of sleep.
Your brain puts together all this information so that you are able to make connections more easily between old and new information stored in your memory. When you don’t get enough sleep, your capacity to remember is directly affected.
Because sleep helps you make new memories and organize old ones, sleep is also vital for learning. Sleep helps your brain make neural connections among different bits of information and to store them properly. This allows you to recall this information when you need it later on. It also means that you will be less likely to forget it. More than this, sleep helps prepare your brain so that it can take in new information and form new memories.
Have you ever had a laugh over making a bad decision, saying that your brain is asleep? Well, you won’t think it’s funny after reading this. Sleep helps your brain to process information and prepare to use it actively. While you sleep, you are actually making decisions already so that you can act on them when you wake up. The funny part now is that all your decisions are really initially made in your sleep!
Sleep helps the brain to process complex stimuli as well, so that you understand it. This makes the processed information ready for your use when you’re awake. There’s no more need to process, just act. In connection, this means that sleep helps you to learn new things by clearing out short-term memory and making space available for new information to process.
Did you know that you could learn new things in your sleep? Those hypnosis tapes don’t sound so crazy now, do they? You may not consciously remember things that you hear while you’re asleep. Research has shown, however, that the brain continues to aggregate information and prepare for action during sleep.
Sleep helps your brain come up with more creative solutions. When you’re unconscious, your brain can focus internally, and so it becomes a processing powerhouse. Your brain has an additional boost of power that allows it to make unusual connections between bits of information. You wouldn’t normally be able to make such unusual creative connections while conscious, or awake.
Sleep helps you to think of things that you would never have been able to imagine if you had worked on a problem during your waking hours. If you ever find yourself having trouble solving a problem or deciding what best to do, take that piece of age old advice and sleep on it – it will really help you to find a better, creative solution.
Sleep helps you to learn beyond information to actual physical activities.During REM sleep, your brain transfers information into long-term storage in short periods of brain waves at powerful frequencies. When this happens, your brain processes motor tasks along with other information. In effect, you are learning how to actually do things – like driving, playing a sport, or a new dance – during your sleeping hours.
Another way to look at this is that sleep helps you practice motor skills. When you wake up, you are therefore able to do physical activities better because you have already “practiced” them in your sleep, and they have become automatic.
Sleep helps you perform tasks better because you have processed the information, which is a very important step in the learning process. Your brain moves short-term memories – new things that you are learning now – from your motor cortex to your temporal lobe for long-term storage – the things that you already know.
Sleep helps your brain to stay clean, too. The brain is just like any other part of your body in that it is made up of living cells. These cells degenerate, and they do so faster when toxins are present.
Research has shown that sleep helps your brain to remove these toxins – molecules that contribute to neurodegeneration.These molecules collect inside the brain while you are awake. The longer you stay awake, therefore, the more of these toxins there are. In addition, if you don’t sleep enough, your brain doesn’t have much time to flush them out, and they begin to accumulate even faster. The molecules build up more and stay in the brain for longer.
Sleep helps your brain clear out these harmful toxins that cause the acceleration of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Sleep Better to Improve Your Brain Function
Help your brain functions along by getting better sleep.
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