Is The Brain Sleeping?

Our brain is also very active when we are asleep. Read on to learn more about it.
Is the brain sleeping?

Does the brain ever sleep ? It is impossible to simply turn off the brain because it is active even when at rest, in meditation, or during sleep. However, this activity varies greatly, which also applies to the individual sleep phases.

The cell metabolism of the organism knows no breaks and the brain is always active in some form, even at night. Our thinking organ is responsible for projects, wishes and decisions,  but this does not mean that we have absolute control over the brain.

You may be surprised to learn that when you are under stress or anxiety, the brain reduces its activity because it is unable to respond to the excessive stimulation. As a result, processing speed may be slower and general brain performance may be lower during difficult times.

A sleeping man is shown graphically.  The brain activity is shown.

Does the brain ever sleep?

We know how important the brain is for a wide variety of functions. It enables contact between the inside and outside world, is essential for life-sustaining motor functions, controls our nervous system and physiological processes, shapes our behavior, enables information processing and takes on numerous other tasks.

The brain is always busy, even when you are sleeping. In the REM phase, the brain uses about as much energy as in the waking state, because it is very active in this sleep phase.

The dark energy and unconscious activity of the brain

Dr. Marcus E. Raichle of Washington University Medical School in Saint Louis, Missouri, called the processes and decisions we often make without realizing them “dark energy . Let’s take an example for a better understanding: If you take a nap and suddenly a fly sits on your nose, you are automatically trying to drive it away without having to worry too much about it.

Likewise, David Eagleman explains in his book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (German title: Incognito: The secret self-lives of our brain) that you should understand a simple aspect in order to know that your brain is not sleeping. If so, you would stop being yourself. In fact, you are forced to assume that there is a dark side of your brain, another dimension that you have no control over.

A woman smiling with her eyes closed.

Your brain while you sleep and the compartmentalization of synapses

The brain never sleeps, but it allows some cells to rest. Giulio Tononi, an expert on consciousness and sleep disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted an interesting study in which he found that:

  • The brain never sleeps at night. It is electrically active, but commands various cells and areas of the brain to rest.
  • This is known as “compartmentalization”. The cited researcher explains that the brain “switches off” certain synapses that are not needed during the night. The next day they are reactivated more intensely and healthily.
  • This process makes it possible to activate other brain regions that integrate information into our long-term memory.

The brain doesn’t sleep and you can improve its performance

Even if you have no control over many brain functions, you can improve your cognitive performance. Overstimulating the brain is very harmful. We speak, for example, of constant stress or constant stimulation by screen devices. 

However, what has a very positive effect on brain performance are balancing activities such as:

  • meditation
  • To stroll
  • Daydreaming
  • 20 minute nap
  • Fun activities like reading, drawing, and engaging in interesting conversations with your friends

The fact that your brain never sleeps doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rest. On the contrary, regular sleeping habits are fundamental to keeping your brain healthy. Pay attention to your sleep hygiene and manage your emotions to ensure the health of your brain and body.

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