I’m sure you’ve seen one of those films where the main character swallows a colorful little pill and suddenly their human potential is unlocked.
If only it was that easy. Alas, science has yet to deliver up such an innovation. So instead you struggle on; you exercise, you try new supplements, you meditate, you educate yourself, you continue to grow your mind and body. But still, it’s hard. Really hard.
And somehow you still feel like you’re lacking something obvious.
Well, you are, dummy – sleep of course, and lots of it!
With a good night’s sleep behind us, we feel we can conquer the world. Sleep makes us, sharper, happier, healthier and basically better at everything we do. Sleep is our colorful little pill. Yet we constantly abuse and mistreat it.
Below are just three of the almost countless benefits of good-quality sleep – plus the science behind them.
4 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Sleep
How To Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Table of Contents
By The Way, Check Our Video On Sleep Here:
Good Night Sleep: Snore Your Way to Total Recall
We’ve all suffered that embarrassing moment when we’ve forgotten a crucial name at a crucial moment…well, at least I have!
Memory is a funny thing and while it’s still not fully understood, we now know more about the physiological processes that govern it than ever before. And chances are the holes in yours aren’t down to early onset Alzheimer’s but something far easier to handle – such as a lack of sleep.
Sleep affects memory in three ways; which for ease are broken down as acquisition, consolidation, and recall.
Acquisition and recall refer to the making of memories and the ability to summon them at will. Both take place while you are awake and both are helped or hindered by how well-rested your brain is.
The well-rested brain is more alive and synapses fire more effectively – meaning the connections made between neurons are quicker. In plain English, that means you’re able to acquire information faster…and then, if needs be, to retrieve this information in a spritely manner.
The sleep-deprived brain, however, is the exact opposite. Even just a short period of poor sleep can hamper your brain’s ability to operate. When sleepy, your synapses react slower and the flow of information drags.
Unlike acquisition and recall, consolidation actually takes place when we are asleep. It’s a process by which the brain reactivates and replays events from the day; in doing so, lasting memories are created.
Information that your brain considers important from the day are relocated from the short-term memory (hippocampus) to the long-term memory (neocortex). Kind of like taking that stack of dollar bills from your jeans’ pocket – where they’re easy to lose – and putting them away in the bank.
So if you’re searching to add the power of total recall to your arsenal of weapons, sleep is the key. And plenty of it.
Slumber Your Way to New Skills
As we’ve covered above, sleep and memory are strongly connected. And being able to acquire new skills is of course, closely related to how sharp your memory is.
The same processes of acquisition, consolidation, and recall that help us to remember the name of the boss’ wife also help us to learn ‘procedural’ skills that require motor coordination and performance. It seems we mentally ‘practice’ physical actions, such as a new hold in jujitsu or a new tennis swing, while we snooze.
So if you really want to master that new skill – whether it’s learning Japanese or how to play the guitar – then you really should build a good night’s sleep into your schedule.
The good news is that even an afternoon nap will help! Bonus.
Snooze Your Way to Greater Productivity
Save your supplements, and invest in a good pillow instead. Because quality sleep has a big impact on your cognitive performance. This presents itself in a number of ways – including accuracy, speed, and focus.
One study in Australia found that getting just 2 hours’ less sleep a night than normal had the equivalent impact on performance as turning up to work after 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks.
And while it has been shown that sleep-deprived people can perform completely adequately at any given task, studies have also revealed that these individuals lack the capacity to regain focus once it’s been lost. So they may be able to concentrate on the task at hand, but multi-tasking – an essential skill in the modern workplace – is nearly impossible.
So if you want to be able to focus your mind like a Zen master, don’t stay up watching YouTube videos of the NBA’s best slam-dunks; hit the sack early instead and wake up a better, more productive, you.
Sleep Your Way to Greater Creativity
Why is it that some days the words flow through you like you’re possessed by the spirit of Mark Twain, and other days you stare blankly at the screen, unable to spell your name? The answer is sleep. Or lack thereof!
Modern technology, in the form of PET scans, high-density EEGs and fMRIs, has finally allowed scientists a glimpse at our slumbering minds and in doing so a glimpse at the processes behind of human kind’s most sought-after qualities – creativity.
What they have found is that good-quality deep sleep makes us more creative during our waking hours. It improves our brain’s ability to form patterns and to see connections with which the tired mind simply can’t contend.
Basically, when well-rested, our brain fires on all cylinders and synapses flash like fireworks in the night’s sky on the Fourth of July. While when sleep-deprived, the lights are on but nobody’s home. Sorry.
What’s more, it seems that we are actually quite creative while we sleep. Which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering how off-the-wall many of our dreams are. First day at school and you’ve just rocked in naked on a flying moose anyone? No, just me.
Despite our eyes being shut, our brains are still operating. And without the distractions of having to stop us from walking into walls or putting our hands in fires, these clever little brains continue to work away on problems from the day; often coming up with neat and innovative solutions for us to wake up to that we simply couldn’t fathom earlier.
As the Harvard University psychologist Deirdre Barrett, author of The Committee of Sleep explains, “In the sleep state, the brain thinks much more visually and intuitively.”
So, the next time someone tells you to ‘sleep on it’, take them up on the offer. Whatever the issue at hand – whether it is writer’s block or the solution to that last remaining answer in the crossword puzzle – chances are that you’ll come up with a far more creative solution in the morning.
Gone are the days when CEOs boast about how they can run a business on just four hours’ sleep a night. Thankfully.
If you want to achieve your potential and join the ranks of the highly successful, then you need to adjust your sleep habits.
After all, the well-rested rule this world. Why else would Ben & Jerry’s, Uber and Google have installed dedicated ‘nap spaces’ in their headquarters?!
If it’s good enough for those guys, it’s good enough for you. Here’s to a sounder sleep tonight, and every night.
Have a good night.
Remember to get a good night sleep.