When Shakespeare wrote, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep," he may have been well ahead of his time. It is no secret that sleep is important to keep our minds in top shape, but researchers have only recently begun to understand the restorative power of sleep.
New research indicates that sleep does more than just give our brain time to rest. During REM sleep, our minds consolidate and store long-term memories and can edit existing memories to integrate new ones. But there's a catch: if we don't enter REM sleep soon enough after learning new information, it's harder for our brains to store it. So while pulling an all-nighter might help you cram more information into your brain, skipping sleep will make it much more difficult to retain it.
In addition to helping us learn and form memories, sleeping is also important for keeping our brain clear of toxins. When we go to sleep, our brain's cellular makeup changes to allow cerebrospinal fluid to flush out harmful chemicals. This can play a role in protecting us from neurological disorders and maintaining a healthy brain. Sleep also plays a vital role in rebuilding damaged muscle, regulating our body temperature and hormones, and cardiovascular health. Make sure you're getting a full night's rest!