I know I don’t get enough sleep. It’s a conscious lifestyle choice to stay up later than I should and get up early enough to catch my preferred train to San Francisco. So when I have the chance for a nap (which is very rare) or the opportunity to snooze on an airplane flight (which used to be a great place to sleep… until the space between seats was shrunk so much that a yoga pose is now required to get comfortable and avoid having my knee rammed by the drink cart in the aisle), I take it. It feels great to get refreshed from even a few extra minutes of rest.
Researchers have published another reason for me to cherish sleep – it will help me get more accomplished. Here’s a summary from Science Daily at Washington University in St. Louis:
Remembering to execute goals in the future is important for both social reasons and personal ones. Volunteers were less likely to remember to execute a goal after being awake for 12 hours than they were following a 20-minute delay. However, goal execution was preserved after a 12-hour sleep delay relative to a 20-minute delay, suggesting that sleep may help goal execution and that it may be better to form a goal before sleeping rather than forming one at the onset of a busy day.
The researchers speculate that sleeping strengthens the context around what you plan on doing the next day, not strengthening the underlying memory of the task itself. By making the association stronger with the context of the activity you are more likely to be “triggered” to undertake the activity. The example used is the need to deliver a message to a colleague – sleeping does not improve your memory of the message but improves the likelihood you deliver it by placing a clue in the mind that is triggered when you see the individual.
You can learn more about the way sleep impacts the brain in our brain healthy activities section.