I simply love neure science. I can’t help it! So here is some brainy stuff that I want to share with you guys.
By know – at least if you’re a woman – you probably know that you loose weight while sleeping. But did you also know that you learn sleeping, or resting? You practically wake up with an ‘update’, as professor Terry Sejnowski puts it. Technically speaking what happens is that many new synapses (connections in our brains) on our dendrites (again, in our brains) are formed when sleeping.
The picture shown above is from an animal. It illustrates the same dendrite; the upper one before sleep and the lower one, after sleep. The white arrows indicate where the new synapses have occurred. This means that we pick up what we have learned during the day, when we sleep. When waking up again the learning has been integrated by the core functionality of our brain.
Why is this so? Have a look at the picture below Illustrated in colors
The blue parts on the brain illustrated on the left shows the activity when we are communicating with the world. The zones are defined as the ones we use when we’re focusing on something; something we have to learn, understand or likewise. Things can be easy to learn. But sometimes they can also be very hard to pick up. And that is, among others, when it becomes crucial to rest. When we rest, we move into what can be defined as the ‘diffused’ mode (have a look at whats illustrated on the brain to the right. The orange-yellow zones show the activity in our brains when we move into this mode. Its here we wander off). A very good example of what actually happens is considering how Salvador Dali got some of his great ideas. After a day with a lot of ‘focus mode’, he’d be sitting on a chair, relaxing, with a bunch of keys in his hand. Finally he’d start to fall to sleep and all the same his mind would start to wander off from the focus mode and into the diffuse mode allowing his brain to catch up important informations and understandings of new ideas, learnings and similar accumulated during the day. When the key dropped to the floor because he’d practically been falling to sleep, he’d wake up but now able to concretize what he’d learned.
This is an important understanding of how much we get out of sleeping but indeed too of power napping and meditating.
You might want to consider how you best relax in general as well. Could be power napping, ironing, walking, swimming, sitting in a chair, running, meditating, standing, you name it…
Source: UC San Diego University through Coursera: “Learning how to learn”