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Improving Your Emotional Intelligence May Be As Easy As Getting More Sleep

Sep 5, 2008
Have you ever wondered how hard you should be working at solving a challenging problem in your life? May I dare say, that this is a common human experience for nearly everyone on this planet at one time or another. We are constantly aware of a need to solve problems, if and when they arise, with our careers and jobs, our relationships with others, or our physical health ills.

No matter what the challenge may be, that little extra edge advantage may just lie in something that a lot of people seem to take for granted now days. Recent sleep research suggests something as simple as getting enough quality, and consistent, sleep may just be one of the many different things we can use to help solve problems that we may not even be aware we have, sometimes. But, how will more sleep help us find more problem solving answers?

Sleep investigators have discovered that, despite our apparent lack of physical inactivity and mental alertness, our brain remains rather active during sleep. Our brain seems to need, and use, this down-time to mainly allow itself the rest it needs to be able to fully process recent pieces of new information that it took in during our latest wake cycle.

Sleeping helps us to strengthen our newly formed memories by copying, filing, and saving only the new pieces of information that will, eventually, become the most pertinent at solving our current dilemmas. The brain also needs time to temporarily shut down, by blocking out the constant influx of incoming stimuli. This helps make our most recently formed memories easier to recall when we want, and makes them more resistant to long-term interference by the flood of all other information that the brain will take in during its next, and subsequent, conscious alert phases.

If you find this news about sleep rather intriguing, then consider that up until the mid-1950's most researchers, who were studying this field of interest, thought that the brain remained, largely, inactive while we slept. By 1994, our understanding of brain activity under went a complete reversal in this way of thinking.

In an eye-opening Israeli sleep study conducted by neurobiologists Avi Karni, Dov Sagi and colleagues, at the 'Weizman Institute of Science', it was concluded that there was definitely better memory recall of objects that test subjects saw the day before. This increased performance was attributed to adequate amounts of REM sleep. When test subjects were deprived of adequate amounts of REM sleep memory recall performance declined.

This type of experiment was revisited again in 2000. It became clearer that sleep could, actually, be a necessity for increased memory performance to occur. It was observed that it took at least six hours, or more, to help increased performance over a 24 hour period. But, it was also discovered that all phases of sleep, not just REM sleep, were equally just as important.

By 2006, sleep was shown to have more than a short-term performance boost on memory recall. Sleep appears to embed the memory enough to make it more resilient to interference from new information we take in the next day.

It has become apparent, also, that sleep provides more than just a stabilizing or preserving effect on our newly formed memories. Sleep seems to strengthen the emotional component we attach to this new information. After a few more sleeping sessions, the brain culls out even more meaningless information and leaves, mainly, the emotional aspects about the memory intact. Therefore, sleep seems to play a pivotal role in our emotional memory evolvement as well.

How sleep acts as a biological screening mechanism, in discarding the meaningless or keeping only the pieces of information that we find relevant enough to form an emotional association with, in helping us to solve many of our problems, is not yet clearly understood. Whether the sleeping process is always a beneficial intelligence boost to everyone remains a debatable topic. In certain circumstances like unipolar and bipolar disorder type depressions, how much sleep is considered to be overkill, in possibly hindering one's problem solving abilities?

A puzzler for sure, but the answers may not stay hidden forever. Theoretically, it is understood that thoughts forming memories are created along, literally, thousands of different neural synaptic paths. Once these nuerons have fired together for the first time, in communication between one another, a pattern has been created and locked in place, making it more likely to recur. This is what makes it easier to recall a thought pattern, or memory, at will. This phenomenon has been termed 'long-term potentiation'.

The purpose of sleep seems to allow the brains ability to reactivate this new pattern after creating it while we were awake. During sleep, the brain rehearses the more difficult parts of a task by using the same original neural path it used to create the memory. Plus, it uses different areas of the brain to strengthen certain aspects of the task that need it the most.

Amazingly, the sleeping brain does this without our awareness, and even if we think we really do not have a major problem to solve! Isn't nice to know that when we do, a good way to help us work through something we consider difficult, all we have to do is take care of our brain first by letting it rest?

Obviously, getting in enough quality sleep time is a continual drain on a modern day society. Some individuals seem to go out of their way to disrupt their natural sleep/wake rhythm cycle. Nature really did intend for the brain to take in all of its new information during the light of day, and process it all during the darkness.

This seems to be how humans evolved in gaining the superior intelligence they enjoy today, in the twenty-first century. This natural biological rhythm evolution was a manifestation that came from only a simple need to survive. Hunt and gather food by day, sleep and rest at night.

In a culture of people, who seem to place a high value on intelligence, creativeness, individuality, and excellence, you would think some of us would learn how to use our time a little more wisely. Maybe, giving yourself the gift of greatness is in little more than just 'sleeping on it'.
About the Author
Brenda Skidmore has spent the last five years actively researching natural health care alternatives. It is her sincere desire to empower others by sharing this important information. To improve your health today visit
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