Your mother was right when she said you need your beauty sleep. People who look tired are rated as less attractive as people who appear to be wide awake. Your mum also knew a thing or two when she told you to “sleep on it” when you faced a problem. Even the Dalai Lama agrees; he said “sleep is the best meditation”.
Now, new research confirms the power of sleep when it comes to trying to learn something. A study by psychologists from the University of London showed that children are able to learn a fictitious language. Central to the study was that participants were allowed to “sleep on it”.
What the research showed was that the brain consolidates what we have learned after a period of sleep. The study focused particularly on embedded rules, not actually taught, but apparent by the use of the fictional language. These grammatical rules were learned only after sleep – even though they had not actually been taught.
Other studies too confirm that your brain is not resting whilst sleeping, but working hard at creating connections between all the things you have done during the day, filing items away, discovering new things from this and creating new neural pathways. It appears that sleep is a vital component in getting our brains working properly.
Internet use disrupts sleep
The problem these days is that the Internet and its associated technology disrupts sleep. Experts in sleep medicine have reported their concerns about the impact of the Internet on sleep, such as its role in the potential for addiction. One study showed an association between the Internet and linked sleep disorders. Another showed a link between daytime sleepiness, resulting from lack of night-time sleep, and Internet usage.
Largely this is all down to the use of screens and monitors which fool our brains into thinking it is perpetually morning time. That means our normal rhythms get disrupted and we cannot sleep properly.
The problem is not just sleepiness at work. The problem is about learning, as this latest study suggests.
When your cannot sleep well, your brain cannot process what you have learned and cannot spot those patterns, rules and concepts which exist.
If you have had trouble, for instance, truly understanding search engine optimisation or pay per click or how to blog effectively, the chances are you haven’t been able to sleep on it.
To be sure to learn and benefit from online technology, the answer is to use it less. That will allow you to get more sleep, you’ll learn more and process more as a result and you will be able to use the Internet more capably during the day.
Your mother was right about the benefits of sleep. She was also right when she said “less is more”. The less you use the Internet the more you could gain from it.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+