Why deep sleep is the most important aspect for learning, memory, speed reading and success.
We spend a lot of time in our bedrooms or sleeping
On average, a person sleeps for about 8 hours a day, which means that one sleeps for one-third of one’s life.
Sleep is recognised as the most important aspect of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health
There are tons of research on the importance of sleep for our health, wellness, relationships, learning and memory, as well as performance and success at work.
How a nap can boost your brain power
‘I’ll sleep on it’, common sense suggests, and now researchers discovered that this old adage really works. In a study at the University of Bristol, 16 participants were presented with a word recognition test on a computer screen. A word was shown at the subliminal level, beneath consciousness awareness for the human mind to register – just 50 milliseconds, followed by a second word that flashed up very quickly. Some groups of words were associated. The control group then had a 90-minute nap before they all repeated the assignment. The researchers used EEG equipment to measure the changes in participants’ brain activity throughout the study and found that the task was processed much more quickly in participants who had a nap. Significant results were found in the instances where the words were associated. The study suggests that information taken in during wakefulness is processed in some deeper, qualitative way during sleep. Researcher Dr Liz Coulthard says that the findings showed our minds are capable of working on cues presented ‘beneath our conscious awareness’.
Watch these eight videos below about the importance of sleep for health, learning, memory, speed reading, decision-making and success.
The benefits of deep sleep and how to get more of it
There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep. What if technology could help us get more out of it? Dan Gartenberg is working on tech that stimulates deep sleep, the most regenerative stage which (among other wonderful things) might help us consolidate our memories and form our personalities. Find out more about how playing sounds that mirror brain waves during this stage might lead to deeper sleep — and its potential benefits on our health, memory and ability to learn.
In this lecture (watch below), Walker discusses sleep more generally and how sleep can impact virtually every area of your physical and mental health. For example, sleep is required for:
• Maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain — Wakefulness is associated with mitochondrial stress and without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in, which can lead to dementia. Animal research reveals inconsistent, intermittent sleep results in considerable and irreversible brain damage. Mice lost 25% of the neurons located in their locus coeruleus, a nucleus in the brainstem associated with arousal, wakefulness and certain cognitive processes. In a similar vein, research published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggests people with chronic sleep problems develop Alzheimer’s disease sooner than those who sleep well.
• Maintaining biological homeostasis — Your body contains an array of body clocks that regulate everything from metabolism to psychological functioning. When you upset your circadian rhythm by not getting enough sleep, the results cascade through your system, raising blood pressure, dysregulating hunger hormones and blood sugar, increasing the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress, and much more. While the master clock in your brain synchronizes your bodily functions to match the 24-hour light and dark cycle, each and every organ, indeed, each cell, has its own biological clock. The Nobel Prize for medicine last year was actually awarded for the discovery of these body clocks. Even half your genes have been shown to be under circadian control, turning on and off in cyclical waves. All of these clocks, while having slightly different rhythms, are synchronized to the master clock in your brain. Needless to say, when these clocks become desynchronized, a wide array of health problems can ensue.
• Removal of toxic waste from your brain through the glymphatic system — This system ramps up its activity during deep sleep, thereby allowing your brain to clear out toxins, including harmful proteins linked to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s. By pumping cerebral spinal fluid through your brain’s tissues, the glymphatic system flushes the waste from your brain back into your body’s circulatory system. From there, the waste eventually reaches your liver, where it can be eliminated.
In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night’s sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness — and smarter decision-making.
Teens don’t get enough sleep, and it’s not because of Snapchat, social lives or hormones — it’s because of public policy, says Wendy Troxel. Drawing from her experience as a sleep researcher, clinician and mother of a teenager, Troxel discusses how early school start times deprive adolescents of sleep during the time of their lives when they need it most.
One more reason to get a good night’s sleep
The brain uses a quarter of the body’s entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body’s mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.
Why do we sleep?
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages — and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.
Our natural sleep cycles is nothing like what we do now
In today’s world, balancing school, work, kids and more, most of us can only hope for the recommended eight hours of sleep. Examining the science behind our body’s internal clock, Jessa Gamble reveals the surprising and substantial program of rest we should be observing.
In this video, Joe Rogan interviews Walker about his book, and about the importance of sleeping and dreaming in general. According to Walker, “Humans are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason,” and based on his studies, he is convinced no one can make it on five hours or less of sleep without suffering some level of short-term impairment or long-term illness.
There is an exceptionally rare genetic mutation known as advanced phase sleep syndrome that allows some to thrive with minimal sleep, but you’re far more likely to be struck by lightning than have this rare genetic mutation. In addition to more long-term health effects, Rogan and Walker also discuss more acute symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as wild hallucinations, delusions, mood swings and paranoia.
In a very real sense, when you forgo sleep for extended periods of time, your brain enters the REM cycle while you’re awake, and as noted at the beginning, you are essentially psychotic when you’re dreaming. While this is perfectly healthy during sleep, it becomes extremely problematic during wakefulness.
Less extreme cases of sleep deprivation typically involve short-temperedness, moodiness, illogical thinking and irrational behaviour. The reason for this is that activity in your prefrontal cortex — the “CEO of the brain” that rules rationality and logical thinking — is dampened. If you frequently feel emotionally off-kilter or struggle with a short fuse, chances are you might manage your emotions a whole lot better were you to get more sleep on a nightly basis.