Enjoy the honey dew of slumber. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, quote
The average amount of sleep we need is 8 hours; that is, one third in a 24-hour period. But most of us, including me, push the limit of waking hours depriving us of that good-health-promoting slumber time.
It’s so ironic for me to think that I am freely given one third of that daily 24-hour period to doze off and yet, I lie wide awake on bed worrying… Why do you think bears hibernate – just to dream of honey fields??! Get to your cave and recharge . . . please! But, of course, you’ll say, “we’ll I’m not a bear.”
Why do we sleep?
Neuroscientist Russell Foster cited three reasons why via TED:
- Energy conservation
- Brain processing and memory consolidation
After a whole day of activities, sleep is your avenue to restore used up energy. Some parts of the brain, including specific genes, are more active when sleeping.
Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Thomas Dekker quote
We turn off our tv, computer and other electronic gadgets to conserve energy. Similarly, we turn off our thoughts by hitting the sack. Foster shared that about 110 calories per night is saved.
Never waste any time you can spend sleeping. Frank H. Knight quote
Brain processing and memory consolidation
Studies suggest that blood circulation is regulated and long-term memory is consolidated through the last two stages of sleep…
The Non-REM (or No Rapid Eye Movement stage of) sleep is believed to be associated with transferring your declarative memory from short-term to long-term memory storage in the cortex. This happens about 3 hours after you drifted into sleep.
REM sleep, the final stage on the other hand, helps in consolidating your procedural memory. (1)
In other words, depending on what was learned and when you slept, sleep aids in stabilizing that memory – promoting both quantitative and qualitative changes in brain activity. (2) While slow wave sleep or SWS consolidates your newly acquired math equation even within 2 hours of dozing off, deep REM sleep will make you remember your piano scale when you wake up the next day. (3)
Quoting Foster: “After you try to learn a task, and you sleep-deprive individuals, the ability to learn that task is smashed… Our ability to come up with novel solutions to complex problems is hugely enhanced by night of sleep.” (4)
Synapse is the passing of information between neurons in our brain. The changes in connection caused by synapses is called synaptic plasticity.
Synaptic plasticity, which is particularly important to memory and learning, is boosted during sleep. (5) Studies have shown that sleep establishes active consolidation of memories – “stimulating the idea that forming long-term memories represents a general function of sleep.” (6)
If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late. Henny Youngman
Youngman, above, has hinted us that there will be ill effects for not going to bed at the right time. I so agree because it makes me feel hungry that I end up raiding my fridge. Plus, knowing that I didn’t hop onto my “sleep train” right away, I get stressed thinking what time it’s coming back to pick me up. It usually comes around past midnight or somewhere close to dawn. (pitiful sigh)
Studies also suggest “that sleep and mental illness aren’t simply associated, they are physically linked.” Sleep disruption could be an early warning sign of schizophrenia (as schizophrenic patients seem confused between the right timing for sleep and wakefulness). Sleep then becomes the doorway to begin therapy before the real onset of such mental illness. (7)
Now, let me end this article the way Foster cleverly ended his TED talk – by quoting…
Sleep is God. Go Worship. Jim Butcher quote
- TED-Ed. (2015, January 5). The benefits of a good night’s sleep – Shai Marcu [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=330&v=gedoSfZvBgE.
- Diekelmann, S. and Born, J. (2010, February). The memory function of sleep. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20046194.
- Diekelmann, S., et.al. (2009, October). The whats and whens of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19251443.
- Foster, R. (2013, June). Why Do We Sleep? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/russell_foster_why_do_we_sleep.
- Sehgal, A. and Mignot, E. (2011, July 22). Genetics of Sleep and Sleep disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153991/.
- Rasch, B. and Born, J. (2013, April). About Sleep’s Role in Memory. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/.
- Ha, T. (2013, June 11). The neuroscience of sleep: Russell Foster at TEDGlobal 2013. Retrieved from https://blog.ted.com/the-neuroscience-of-sleep-russell-foster-at-tedglobal-2013/.