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Next Time You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, Try This Quick Trick To Restore Brain Energy

Next Time You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, Try This Quick Trick To Restore Brain Energy

Lots of people don’t get enough sleep in today’s society due to long working hours, stress, and insomnia. A lack of sleep will make you feel tired and bleary, making it harder for you to focus and concentrate. This can mean you end up wasting the whole day to due low energy levels, but researchers think they may have found a surprising solution.

It appears that knowing that you are not sleeping enough can actually make you feel more lethargic. Thinking that you don’t get enough sleep may make the symptoms of tiredness worse, highlighting the power of the mind over the body.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology,[1] tested the effects of “placebo sleep” on participants and found that it is an effective way to reduce tiredness.

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But what is placebo sleep? And how can it help you? Here is everything that you need to know about the study.

Placebo Sleep: The Study

Researchers from Colorado College decided to test the effects of “placebo sleep” on participants to see if it would reduce tiredness. They began by asking participants to report how deeply they slept the night before, and then the researchers talked to the participants about the importance of REM sleep.

The researchers said that adults normally spend between 20% and 25% of their sleep in REM sleep, and that people who have less REM sleep tended to have a lower performance on learning tests, whereas people who spend over 25% of their sleep in REM sleep tended to perform better on learning tests.

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After this conversation, the participants were hooked up to equipment that they believed read their heart rate, pulse, and brainwave frequency. In reality, the machine only measured their brainwave activity. The participants were told that these readings would show the researchers how much REM sleep they had the night before, but this wasn’t true.

The participants were all told that they either spent 16.2% or 28.7% of their sleep in REM sleep. This also wasn’t true.

The participants then took learning tests that measured their auditory attention and speed of processing. Both of these skills can be affected by sleep deprivation.

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The results found that the participants who thought they had an above-average amount of REM sleep performed better on the tests than those who were told that their REM sleep was below average. This fascinating result shows the power of placebo sleep, and now many people are wondering if they can use placebo sleep to improve their energy and concentration levels.

The Benefits Of Placebo Sleep For People Who Don’t Get Enough Sleep

It is clear that placebo sleep can be used to improve cognitive performance. The study found that people who believe that they are well rested are more likely to perform better, even if they don’t get enough sleep. On the other hand, people who think that they are tired and sleep deprived are likely to have reduced cognitive skills.

This study shows the power of the mind. Placebo sleep can be used by anyone to help restore their brain energy, and even their cognitive function in general. This may be useful to people who occasionally don’t get enough sleep due to stress or long working hours, as they can consciously make the effort to think “I did sleep enough last night,” so they are more alert and productive.

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However it is important to remember that while placebo sleep is useful for people who struggle to sleep sometimes, it is not recommended for people who suffer from long-term insomnia. If you suffer from insomnia, make sure to speak to your doctor or GP about causes and treatments.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pexels.com

Reference

[1] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning

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Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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