Anyone who’s ever wished there were more hours in the day to get things done has also probably spent some time ruing the fact that taking a few hours of down time sleeping is necessary. However, sleep is more important than you might think. Not only does it refresh your body, it also performs a number of vital functions within the mind. While your body is fast asleep, your brain keeps working away. These are some of the amazing things your mind does while you’re asleep.
Sleep is the time when your mind processes all the information it took in during the day, consolidating and compressing that stimuli into permanent memories. It is also when the brain makes connections between old memories and new ones, allowing you to reach conclusions you might not have come to while you were awake. This is one reason why sleep plays such an important role in learning. While you might be tempted to pull an all-nighter before a big test, getting enough sleep will help you remember information better.
Sleep is an important time for processing large amounts of data and drawing conclusions from it. Getting some sleep helps the brain sort through all the clutter and determine what is really essential when it comes to making decisions. Any time you have tough choices to make, it’s often a good idea to sleep on it. In the morning, you may find yourself able to think more clearly and make more sense of conflicting stimuli.
Sleep also plays a vital role in creativity. The same process by which the brain makes connections between old and new memories during sleep on a comfortable bed also works with creative associations. While in a resting state, the brain is able to forge links between two disparate ideas, leading to the surprising revelations that result from creative thinking. If you’re stumped on what to do next for a big project, don’t try to power through on too little sleep. Instead, put it aside, get some rest and take a fresh look at your work in the morning.
Remember Physical Tasks
In addition to remembering information, sleep can also help reinforce muscle memory. Sleep is when the brain transfers short-term memories stored in the frontal lobe to the temporal lobe where they become long-term memories. This works for a variety of information not strictly related to memories, including the ability to do physical tasks or speak a new language without consciously thinking about it.
Clean Superfluous Information
While you are asleep, the brain does its housekeeping. Deep sleep allows the brain to clean out unnecessary information and extraneous details that clutter up thinking. During deep sleep, the brain also takes the opportunity to clean out physical junk in the form of toxins and damaging molecules. If allowed to build up too much, these molecules can lead to mental degeneration, which makes sleep an essential component of mental health.
The next time you’re tempted to stay up late and cram a few more hours into your busy day, remember that sleep deprivation negatively impacts you.