Take some time and "sleep on it". Sound familiar?
Sleep is essential to our productivity and creativity. A good night’s sleep not only helps us feel refreshed and recharged, but research shows that sleep helps us process information better and retain it.
Read on to find out if sleeping on it works. We also delve into how sleep can help you make informed decisions.
Does Sleeping on It Work?
It’s common to be in a situation that calls for critical decision-making, whether you’re a career person or deciding on what course or path to pursue. You’ll often be advised to sleep on it before making a final decision.
The truth is that getting some hours of shut-eye can help you make a better decision. Lancaster University conducted a study on 34 women, and 27 men were asked to attempt difficult and easy verbal insight problems. The study found that the sleep group solved more challenging problems than other groups. However, no difference was found for those who attempted the easy issues.
The conclusion was that sleep helped solve more complicated problems than trivial ones.
Sleep was shown to help the participants access information that wasn’t initially brought to mind. Getting some shut-eye gives you time to think more about the solution that seemed distant at the first attempt at solving the problem.
How Does Sleep Enhance Problem Solving and Improve Memory?
According to News in Health, when you take a nap or sleep, the brain goes through different sleep phases. You go through light sleep, deep sleep, and rapid eye movement sleep. It’s during the rapid eye movement when dreaming occurs.
The thalamus part of your brain transmits signals from your five senses to the cerebral cortex. It’s the cortex that interprets and processes information from your memories. At the REM stage of sleep, your thalamus will relay sounds, images, and other things to the cortex, which are then consolidated into your dreams.
These cycles repeat after 90 minutes. The three stages prepare your brain to get new information. That’s why lack of enough sleep or no sleep can reduce your learning abilities by close to 40%. Three things must happen for something to become a memory. You need to learn/experience something, consolidate these experiences in your brain, and have the ability to access these experiences in the future.
Acquiring and recalling a memory occurs when you are awake. Sleep is critical to stabilizing these memories in your brain. Sleep also affects your fine motor skills, physical reflexes, and judgment.
As you sleep, the brain scouts through different memories from the previous day, eliminating some information and filtering out essential memories. Some memories become more potent during a night of sleep.
Research also shows that memories are stable in the brain during the deep sleep stage. The most active stage of sleep, which is the rapid eye movement, seems to link together related memories. That’s the reason why a full night of sleep can help with problem-solving. The REM stage also processes emotional memories that can help cope with challenging experiences.
Each time you decide to sleep on a difficult decision, the assumption is that you’ll wake up with a clear mind that will help you choose to sleep. The research above proves that a good night’s sleep might help you solve a challenging problem or develop a creative idea for a project.
That’s why people who experience sleep deprivation have a problem remembering things, experience reduced decision-making skills, and struggle with behavioral and emotional control.
Proven Tips to Help You Get More Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night. A good night’s sleep promotes better mental functioning, coordination, more productivity, energy, and improved performance. Note that excessive sleep can also lead to cognitive impairments.
Stick to a Sleep and Wake Schedule
Having an irregular sleep pattern can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels that signal your brain to sleep. It’s essential to go to bed and wake up simultaneously. Doing this can help with long-term sleep quality. Avoid the habit of sleeping and waking up late during the weekends, as this will also translate to poor sleep during the week.
Reduce long or irregular daytime naps as they can affect your sleep negatively. That’s because the naps can interfere with your internal body clock. While a 30-minute nap can be beneficial, anything longer will only affect your sleep quality.
Avoid Eating Late at Night
Eating an hour before your sleep time can lead to hormone disruption and poor sleep. Late dinners only reactivate the digestive system, which keeps you up for longer hours. Moreover, if you experience heartburn or reflux, these symptoms tend to worsen if you drink and eat before bed.
Aim to eat at least 2 hours before bedtime. If you must eat something before bed, you can have a healthy snack to keep you full until breakfast.
Invest in a Comfortable Bed and Mattress
Your quality of sleep can also be affected by bed quality. A study conducted on a new mattress’s benefits revealed that it reduced shoulder pain by 60%, back pain by 57%, and stiffness by 59%. The participants also experienced better sleep quality.
Experts recommend changing your mattress at least every five years. Viscosoft has various mattresses to choose from depending on your preferences and budget.
Consult Your Doctor For Consistent Sleep Problems
If you’re still having a problem falling asleep or getting enough sleep after creating a comfortable environment, avoiding caffeine at night, limiting blue light exposure, creating a sleep schedule, and de-stressing, you need to visit your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
You may be going through a health condition that could lead to sleep problems. Your doctor can only diagnose issues like circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders, sleep apnea, and sleep movement disorder.
Sleeping on it can help improve your memory and enhance your decision-making skills. Remember that you function well when rested. Quality sleep also leads to emotional balance, productivity, enhanced immune function, brain/heart health, and vitality. The above tips will help you get better sleep and experience optimal health.