This was basically me last night.
Clearly exhausted, as I have been a lot lately (dissertations don’t write themselves and genetics classes don’t teach themselves), I closed my eyes expecting sleep, only to lie there for over an hour in a stage of quiet, semi-conscious rest instead of churning out the Z’s. How useful is that for our brains? Are we experiencing any “neural rest” by just lying there in “quiet restfulness”?
Brian Fung analyzes:
Researchers are growing increasingly confident, though, that sleep evolved specifically to recharge the brain. Dr. Chiara Cirelli, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has been studying the difference between sleep and quiet wake in humans. She says that while we’re awake, all of our neurons are constantly firing, but that when we’re asleep, the neurons revert to an “up-and-down” state in which only some are active at a given time. During some stages of sleep, all neuron activity goes silent. And that’s likely when the restful part of sleep takes place.
So it seems that while our bodies may obtain some rest when in “quiet restfulness”, our brains don’t get much of a recharge. Check out Brian’s post for some interesting facts about dolphin sleep and some tips on how to promote real snooze time..