Monday, February 13, 2017

To sleep and forget about it

My little bear hears his alarm, turns it off and shuffles out of his bedroom to my desk where I write this blog. He scrambles into my lap, we snuggle and I ask him some basic questions to determine his morning mood.

(Bad mood days are generally turned around by showing my son pictures of cute baby animals or amazing videos of how scientists believed that the Moai of Easter Island were walked into place.)

The first thing my son usually wants to talk about is if he remembers any dreams and how well he slept. We have talked so many times about the importance of sleep and that no one is 100 percent sure of all the functions of sleep. He knows that we think we sleep so our bodies can rest and cells can recuperate and so we can retain what we've learned.

But now I get to tell him that there is research that suggests that we also sleep to forget. (Warning: There is a lot of talk about mice brains on that link.) If this is true - our memories get pruned at night - then it makes sense as to why most people don't have instant recall for everything that happens to them. It is also a little weird: How do our brains know what we need to remember long term and what we need to forget?

I'll add this bit of information to our ongoing discussions of why we sleep (a conversation we often have at bedtime). Maybe if I repeat it all enough times, his brain will choose to remember it.

Does everyone in your household get enough sleep? Tell me in the comments.

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