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While You Were Sleeping: What Your Brain Accomplishes While You Sleep

You might think that the time you spend asleep is strictly a time of rest and relaxation – and although that is not entirely untrue, your mind is actually very busy while you are sleeping.  In fact, during sleep your brain is deeply engaged in processes that help keep it healthy (yet another reason why sleep problems typically lead to many other health concerns). 

Scientists have long understood that REM sleep is necessary for a quality night’s rest; however, they have recently discovered that the rest of the time spent sleeping (referred to as “slow wave” sleep) also plays an important role in improving mental and physical performance the next day.

Some of the essential cognitive functions that your brain performs while you sleep include stabilizing and encoding the previous day’s memories, making them more robust and permanent.  Your brain processes the events of the previous day, which helps you to form connections and to cement those ideas and concepts in your mind.  In fact, regular sleep is one of the most important parts of learning something new is proper rest – after all, how many times have you heard “why don’t you sleep on it?” when trying to study for a major test or make a complicated decision.

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