Sleep cannot be replaced by rest, this is why.

Sleep is essential to brain function and cognitive performance. As confirmed by a new study, sleep can’t be replaced by rest, though both rest and sleep are important to overall brain health and function.


Sleep can’t be replaced by rest, this is why:


In the brain, learning and information storage is a physical process built upon chemical reactions and electrical signals. Connections for information a person uses or needs regularly are strengthened. The connections for things that may no longer be relevant or used are weakened. This nerve cell connectivity work takes place during the restorative deep sleep phase. Sleep can’t be replaced by rest because rest just doesn’t go deep enough for that type of crucial sorting and building work to take place in the brain.

For learning and other cognitive tasks, rest cannot be substituted for sleep. However, that does not mean that rest is entirely without value. Resting does offer a variety of benefits. These include decreasing stress, particularly when taking a break from a high-pressure task or deep concentration, relaxing mind and body, increasing alertness and elevating mood. Resting can help refocus energy and increase overall productivity.


A common problem: insufficient sleep


This study adds to the expanding body of knowledge that demonstrates the importance of sleep. The specific focus of University of Freiburg studies on learning and sleep takes on an important meaning when considered in the context of how many children and teens routinely do not sleep well enough. This should be of great concern, considering that education and learning are among the primary focuses of this period of their lives.

Adults also suffer from a lack of quality sleep. Indeed, insufficient sleep has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. Aside from the brain function issues associated with not sleeping enough, there are numerous health consequences to failing to get enough sleep. Financial pressures and the demands of daily life are often strong contributors to sleep problems.

Many families find themselves awash in demands and activities. Work hours, school hours, overtime, homework, school activities, household tasks and social obligations can present a seemingly never-ending list of things that demand time and cut into sleep time. For parents of teens looking toward the future with competitive college application processes, there can be a lot of pressure to make sure that all of the extra-curricular boxes are checked. However, sacrificing sleep isn’t the best long-term move, for parents or children. It could even set an unhealthy pattern that a teenager could carry far into adulthood.


Sleep hygiene is very important


Understanding the importance of sleep to learning and health for adults and children, it’s time to make sleep hygiene a priority. It’s important to work to develop a regular schedule for sleeping, waking and eating, avoiding heavy meals within two hours of bedtime. Your schedule should include sufficient time for sleep, as well as a 30-60 minute wind-down period before sleeping. Use that wind-down period for a pre-sleep routine that helps dissipate the stress of the day, helping you to relax and prepare mentally and physically to sleep. Eventually, that routine will become a sleep signal. Be mindful of your caffeine intake, limiting it to earlier in the day. Get enough physical activity early in the day and resist the temptation of late afternoon naps.



Source: Chronobiology

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