Our blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

May 5, 2009

Great Business Case for Sleep

A recent Newsweek article, Sleep Now, Remember Later, underscored a couple really interesting takeaways about sleep and memory. I have always been pretty good about getting a healthy amount of sleep but this article helped to underscore the business benefits of doing so!

What we all know: Sleep is good. Our body tells us we need it by getting tired and starting to shut down. And our recommended daily dosage is about 8 hours.

But what is actually happening when you sleep? Why do we need it? How does it relate to our body? How does it relate to our minds?

When I get tired I start to forget things, I am less sharp, and my brain does not work the way it should. I go to sleep and wake up refreshed and clear headed (well, at least after coffee I am clear headed). Given these few pieces of data, you might think that your brain is resting when you are sleeping. Actually when you are asleep your body is resting but your brain is not. Your brain is really quite active.

Apparently, when you are sleeping your brain is, among other things, “down-loading” memories from the day to be stored in a more permanent place and making linkages between the memories of the day and other stored memories. This integration process often leads to those great aha! moments in either dreams or just after waking up. It also really gives credence to the phrase “let me sleep on it”. Basically our brains need us to shut down for a period of time each day to “make sense” of all that has happened. The article reports that for each 2 hours awake, we need approximately 1 hour of sleep.

The article also discusses that when we are sleep deprived we have a harder time hanging on to the positive emotions attached to memories that we do the negative ones. Perhaps this is because from an evolutionary perspective it was more important for us to imprint and record memories associated with fear or loss for protective purposes. However, in our modern day existence, this tendency sheds some light on why sleep deprivation can led to depression among other health problems.

This article served as an interesting prompt to reframe sleep as a time for mental processing and sorting reminder on why things that are so mentally taxing make you physically exhausted!
(image courtesy of prettyfnmess)

No comments: