Sweet Dreams are Made of What?

At Cool-jams you know we are all about Sleep and how to get more of it! Sleep is a wonderland of mystery. Why do we need so much of it? Why do we dream? How am I still awake after lying in bed for 6 hours praying for the sweet release of unconsciousness? These are just a few of the questions that Penelope A. Lewis has studied as director of the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester, and in The Secret World of Sleep, Lewis expertly leads an entertaining and informative scientific exploration of those many hours we spend twitching and drooling in bed.

Sleep Better!
Sleep Better!

We’ve all been victims of the memory lapses, irritability and slowed thinking that comes from lack of sleep, and Lewis pulls on a variety of scientific research to offer explanations on how this happens. A study with rats (aka the brave frontiersman who have performed much of the pathfinding in sleep studies), for example, shows that when they enter a specific sleep stage known as slow-wave sleep, their little rat minds replay maze attempts and the number of times they replay these attempts can predict how well they perform on future maze tests. Buzzing rats with small doses of electricity to prevent them from doing these sleep replays, however, will cancel the improvements.

In other words, sleep is important for consolidating memories and improving our ability to learn. Lewis references dozens of studies to look at sleep from a variety of fascinating angles. Naps as short as six minutes, for example, have been shown to help us learn skills such as riding a bike, as well retain memories of what we ate for breakfast.

Another study revealed that four years after reading a story about child murder, people who were allowed to sleep soon after reading the story were better able to access their emotionally charged memories than people who stayed awake after reading it. It isn’t a long book, but it’s loaded with information that will have you reconsidering your entire sleep routine. Check out this great read... The Secret World of Sleep! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go put on my Cool-jams and  so I can take a nap.