Why your brain really, really needs sleep

Want to absorb more information? Prioritize sleep!

What happens when you add liquid to an already-full cup? It overflows. If you want to add more, you have to pour some out.

Your brain appears to work in a similar fashion…while you sleep. In a recent study, researchers found that at night, the brain shrinks some of the connections between brain cells (called synapses) that have grown during the day. This “selective forgetting” is thought to make room for new information and skills.

Other research has shown that memories and learning get consolidated during sleep. It appears, then, that while you’re sawing logs, your brain saves what’s useful and discards the rest. (Is it any surprise that brains are…smart?)

Whether you’re pursuing a Ph.D., learning a new computer program, studying a foreign language, or just trying to remember where you put your keys, keep your mind sharp and receptive by taking sleep seriously.

If you don’t get enough Zs, you’ve probably gotten the “sleep hygiene” talk from your doctor, (or me!), but it bears repeating: Keep consistent sleep/wake times, get plenty of natural light during the day (especially in the morning), and give your electronic devices a “bedtime” that’s at least an hour before yours. Daily exercise (not close to bedtime) and minimizing caffeine and alcohol can also help you get sufficient shuteye.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

And if you’re having problems sleeping at night, hypnosis really can help. Click here to read more about the work I do with insomnia and other sleep-related issues.

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