Benefits of sleeping may extend beyond rest and relaxation. New studies explain how sleep may help solidify memories for retrieval at a later time and help organize them, allowing for production of new ideas. This research was published in Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Originally believed to assist brain function, sleep is now proven to not only strengthen memories, but also organize them by removing emotional connotation, and allow for additional creative thinking and production of new ideas.
Researchers discovered the most common memory to be emotional. If an individual is shown a picture of something emotional, like a wounded animal, the background of the image is largely forgotten, especially after sleeping.
After analyzing a sleeping brain, experts found the parts of the brain associated with memory consolidation and emotion to be active.
With busy schedules, many individuals sacrifice sleep, mainly because people believe a sleeping brain is not working or it is wasting time. When sleeping, the brain is working extremely hard to group memories, organize them, and understand which are most important. Researchers believe this function of the brain is what allows new, creative thinking in individuals.
Dr. Payne, one of the researchers of this study, now sleeps eight hours per night, something that was not done before conducting this research.
People who miss sleep are significantly hampering cognitive abilities, even though the ability to function still exists.