Since the time I have been able to understand stuff around me and started questioning the why’s and how’s of everything that happens, there has been a certain question that kept ticking within me – What is happening in my brain when I am sleeping? Is it at rest too? Or is my brain involved in some secret functions I am not aware of? I had questioned my mother too regarding the same. Her answer was simple, “It sleeps, what else?” But I was not fully convinced owing to the fact that we have some major dreams while we sleep and this activity takes place in our brain, so how is it possible that our brain just sleeps.
A few days back, I read a very intriguing article on the state of the brain while we sleep. It was fascinating, to say the least. So today, let me share those interesting facts. I’m sure many of you must have had these questions in your mind.
Did you know that your brain is the most active only after you sleep? It starts functioning at its best when your body is at rest. Here’s more to it.
It deletes the junk –
When you sleep, the cerebral spinal fluid gets pumped throughout your brain at a greater speed that washes out the waste products from the brain? What are these waste products? It is everything unwanted like the molecular detritus produced by the brain cells and the toxic proteins which if gets accumulated can lead to dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s over time. So when you wake up in the morning, your mind is clear and your brain is like a clean disk.
The better you sleep, the better your brain gets time to clear out the toxic molecules. So a good 7-8 hours of sleep is very important.
It creates memories –
Our brain is like a hard disk that forms new memories and strengthens the older memories. It also links new memories to the older memories consolidating them further. Forgetfulness, lack of concentration and carelessness are often associated with insomnia or sleep deprivation. That is the reason why sleep plays an important role in cementing our learning of new information.
It is, therefore, a very important advice for all students out there that pulling an all-nighter before the big exam day is a complete no-no. Study all through the year and sleep well simultaneously to allow the brain to store all information. Lack of sleep before exam drops your learning ability by 40%.
It segregates memories –
Besides storing memories, the brain also functions to classify memories as the most important and the least important ones. This is more related to the memories having emotional importance like important dates and significant events whereas it downgrades those memories that do not hold much importance in life.
If you husband often forgets your birthdays and anniversaries, he might actually not be sleeping properly. Let the poor soul have enough sleep! These important dates are going to be at the tip of his tongue.
It learns motor skills –
The brain also functions to remember motor skills learned such as driving, chopping, swinging a tennis racquet, a dance move. While these are motor tasks of adult age, the simplest of the movements like grasping, holding, writing, balancing that becomes a reflex task are set by the brain when we are just a few months old.
Even motor tasks are considered information by the brain and they store them into long-term memory through brainwaves called sleep spindles.
It prevents enactment of your dreams –
Have you ever thought why you have never recreated your dream in action? When you are in the deepest stage of your sleep, the brain sends a message to turn down the motor neurons so that you slip into a temporary paralysis stage. That’s the reason in spite of you running, jumping, fight, crying or laughing in your dream, all these activities run through your mind and you don’t put them into action at that point.
So the key to a healthy body and mind is to keep calm, sleep well and not interfere in the brain’s important activities.