Sounds During Sleep Can Boost Your Memory

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A
new study about a different kind of audio approach during sleep
gives insight into how the sleeping brain works, and may eventually
come in handy to people studying a language, cramming for a test
or memorizing lines in a play.

Scientists
at Northwestern University reported that playing specific sounds
while people slept helped them remember more of what they had learned
before they fell sleep, to the point where memories of individual
facts were enhanced.

Researchers
taught people to move 50 pictures to their correct locations on
a computer screen. Each picture was accompanied by a related sound,
like a meow for a cat and whirring for a helicopter.

Then, 12 subjects
took a nap, during which 25 of the sounds were played along with
white noise. When they awoke, none realized that the sounds had
been played or could guess which ones had been used. Yet almost
all remembered more precisely the computer locations of the pictures
associated with the 25 sounds that had been played while they slept,
doing less well placing the other 25 pictures.

The study adds
a dimension to a theory that sleep allows the brain to process and
consolidate memories.

Sources:

NYTimes.com
November 20, 2009

Science
November 20, 2009

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

Research has
established that sleeping may be more far important than we realize
as it serves more functions than one.

In addition
to physical restoration and healing, memory consolidation takes
place, and “rehearsals” during sleep have been found to
strengthen your memories. Here, they discovered that by using related
sounds you can cue that rehearsal mechanism to make it more specific
to each episode of learning.

Another recent
study
published in the Scientific American found that while you
sleep, your brain processes the day’s information by combing
through recently formed memories; stabilizing, copying, and filing
these memories to make them more useful and easier to retrieve.

Sleep to
Unleash Your Creative Mind

An equally
fascinating finding is how sleep
impacts your creativity and creative problem-solving skills
.

Sleep, it
turns out, is imperative for coming to new insights and being able
to see new creative solutions to old problems because while you
sleep, your mind can discover hidden or novel connections between
seemingly random pieces of information. This process not only helps
you find the meaning in what you have learned, but by forging
connections among differing pieces of information, the odds that
a creative idea or insight will surface increases.

If you keep
toiling over a problem you can easily wind up with tunnel vision
that keeps you from finding an appropriate solution. Sleep removes
the blinders and helps “reset” your brain to look at things
from a different perspective, which is crucial to creativity.

One could come
to the conclusion that sleeping is essential for wisdom, since most
knowledge or information alone, without meaning or context, is useless.
But by discovering the relationships between bits of information,
it can help you can make better decisions in the future.

“Sleeping
on it” may indeed be the most practical solution when you’re
faced with a tricky problem.

Significant
Health Challenges May Be Rooted in Lack of Sleep

In addition
to memory enhancement, increased creativity, and improved problem
solving skills, there are other far more important reasons to make
sure you get enough sleep on a regular basis.

For example,
did you know you could actually die from sleep deprivation, just
like you can die from being deprived of food? Other health ramifications
from sleep deprivation include:

There’s
a reason why I rate sleep as one of the most basic tenets of good
health! The health benefits of good sleeping habits go far beyond
simply feeling refreshed, as you can see from the examples listed
here.

How Much
Sleep Do You Need?

Generally
speaking, adults need to get between six and eight hours of sleep
a night. But there are definitely exceptions. Some people can, in
fact, function well on as few as five hours a night, while others
need up to 10. However there is some suggestion that sleeping more
than 8 hours may actually cause problems similar to not enough sleep
.

Oftentimes
you will need more sleep during times of illness or emotional stress,
or during the winter months. And pregnant women often need several
hours more sleep than usual during their first three months of pregnancy.

A good rule
of thumb to follow is that if you feel tired when you wake up, you
probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Another clue is if you
find yourself frequently yawning throughout the day.

Personally,
I usually sleep between six and seven hours a night, but sometimes
as little as four. However, there are some major caveats here. I
do not use an alarm clock, and sleep in a pitch-dark room that is
dark even at noon. So I wake up naturally once I am rested.

Optimal
Wellness Includes Sleeping Well

There is no
better example of optimal wellness than to be in harmony
with your deepest function… sleep.

The first
step is to value sleep as one of your most precious resources for
health and happiness. If you do that, you can figure out all the
other things that would help you to sleep really well, and you’ll
be better able to make health conscious choices during the day.

If you have
trouble sleeping – whether it’s trouble falling asleep
or waking repeatedly – take advantage of some of the practical
solutions I’ve outlined in my 33
Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep
.

If you believe
your sleep problems may be stemming from emotional challenges such
as anxiety or even depression, I highly recommend trying the Meridian
Tapping Technique (MTT) as it can effectively address
underlying emotional reasons for insomnia.

If these approaches
don’t help you might try the sleep
CDs
that many of our patients have found very helpful in providing
them with restful sleep. They help restore your brain to natural
delta wave sleep.

December
18, 2009

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