Updated: Aug 23, 2020
(Sleep Series 3 )
In the last two parts of the Sleep Series, I was discussing how sleep is very important for well-being and I also shared tips for better sleep. If you haven't gone through it please have a look at Fighting against lockdown for better sleep
Today I want to discuss how eight hours of sleep is compulsory and how it has a huge impact on your physical activities.
I will begin with a basic fact, sleep improves memory. A night of good sleep after learning for your exam can help you do better during your exam.
Yeah, you heard me!
This type of memory is related to facts, concepts, theories etc and it comes under the classification named semantic memory.
But there is another memory that plays a major role in learning how to ride a bike or how to play the violin or even how to throw a ball. This involves the procedural memory or skill memory which is needed for learning a skill or movement. People often refer it to "muscle memory" (a word which is very debatable).
Sometimes it is hard for a swimmer to explain exactly how to swim or for a dancer to explain exactly how to tighten abdominal muscles while dancing, these are skills "that just happen" without recalling. Such skills or procedural memory is enhanced through sleep. How?
During sleep, unlike the semantic memory, memories from the different motor muscles move from short term memory to different brain circuits controlling movement. This turns these memories into habits and makes any movement possible. So when you learn how to play "despacito" in your guitar today, after sleep you might be able to play it more easily (don't expect to master it in a day). This process of developing your skills happens during the last two hours of your 8 hours of sleep! Studies show during this time there is an increased brain activity related to skill memory.
Also, the researches show that during these two hours of skill-building and enhancing, more activity is seen in the brain parts related to the skills you worked on the most during the daytime. Means, the more you work on a skill, the more your brain works on that. That is why practice makes you perfect!
How is a performer affected by lack of sleep?
It includes dancers, painters, carpenters, drivers, athletes or anyone who depends on skill memory. Adding to the loss of the above benefits it can also lead to
• Lack of proper oxygen to muscle parts leading to exhaustion.
• Body doesn't cool down through sweating (a major problem faced during physical movement)
• Higher injury risk
• Sleep after a performance is compulsory for recovery
• Loss of creativity
The above are a few of the problems. After an exhausting performance or physical work, a full stretch of sleep is very much necessary for recovery. If recovery of muscles fails to happen it affects your upcoming performance and makes you prone to injuries. It forms a vicious cycle.
Not just performance, creativity is so much influenced by sleep. Dreams help your brain for being more creative. Creativity and problem-solving take place majorly during the last two hours of an eight hours sleep. Artists of any kind, scientists, businessmen/businesswomen etc, all can be benefitted here. Any creative ideas or solutions to your daytime problems are worked on during these hours.
Is it only the above-mentioned groups should need 7-9 hours of sleep? Absolutely NOT!
Skill memory is needed for driving, jumping, using your laptop, running, writing etc. It includes anything involving the movement of your body. So next time when you wake up 2 hours earlier keep in your mind what you are giving up. Each hour of your sleep is precious as different processes are taking place in your brain and your body. So it is not an inactive period, in fact, your whole body is working to prepare you for the real world.
Sleep Well and be better every day!