You Snooze You Win

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In Learning How To Learn, Dr. Barbara Oakley tells us:

During the day, while the learning was taking place, a few small bumps began to emerge on the dendrite. But the spines really grew during sleep! The arrows in the picture below point to the new dendritic spines Guang found the next morning. During sleep, the brain rehearses what it has learned during the day. We can see the electrical signals traveling again and again through the same sets of neurons.

Being awake creates nasty toxic products in your brain. The longer you’re awake, the more the toxins build up. What an awful thought! It’s not as bad as it sounds. Once you go to sleep, your brain cells shrink, and the poisonous toxins are washed away through the gaps… If you don’t sleep enough, there isn’t time for all the toxins to be cleaned away. You start the day groggy, blocked, and unable to think clearly.”

As Donald Hebb once said, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Sleep to grow and sprout new dendritic spines. Sleep to fire sets of neurons involved in the day’s learning repeatedly at night. Sleep to wash away toxins in your brain.