Sleep Spring Cleaning5 Amazing Things Your Brain Does While You Sleep

We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping, an activity as crucial to our health and well-being as eating. We know that sleep makes us feel more energized and improves our mood. But, does the brain actually rest? Here we will take at what is happening in the brain and body when we’re at sleeping.

Research has identified a number of reasons that sleep is critical to our health. When we’re sleeping, the brain is not inactive. In fact, during sleep, neurons in the brain fire nearly as much as they do during waking hours — so it should come as no surprise that what happens during our resting hours is extremely important to many of our brain and cognitive functions.

Here are 5 incredible things your brain does while you are sleeping:

1. Makes decisions

The brain can process information and prepare for actions during sleep, effectively making decisions while unconscious. The brain processes complex stimuli during sleep, and uses this information to make decisions while awake.

2. Preserves important memories

Getting enough sleep is vital for our brains to be able to form new memories. While you’re asleep, the brain is busy forming new memories, consolidating older ones, and linking more recent with earlier memories, during both REM and non-REM sleep. Lack of sleep can impact the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory creation and consolidation. Getting adequate sleep helps us to cement the new information we are taking in for better later recall.

3. Locks in what you learn

The brain works to restore information that wasn’t ingrained during the day, such as a new password you need to remember. This is called consolidation and is important in protecting against further information loss as well as boosting your ability to learn while you are awake.

4. Clears out toxins

An important function of sleep may be to give the brain a chance to do some housekeeping. Cerebral spinal fluid is pumped more quickly throughout the brain when you sleep. It acts like a vacuum cleaner, whisking away waste products and toxins. If we do not get enough sleep, our brains don’t have adequate time to clear out toxins, which could potentially have the effect of accelerating neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

5. Learns and remembers how to perform physical tasks

The brain stores information into long-term memory through something known as sleep spindles, short bursts of brain waves at strong frequencies that occur during REM sleep. This process can be particularly helpful for storing information related to motor tasks, like driving, swinging a tennis racket, or practicing a new dance move, so that these become automatic. During REM sleep, the brain transfers short-term memories stored in the motor cortex to the temporal lobe, where they become long-term memories. So, if you really want to improve your golf game, make sure you are getting enough sleep!