You just got home after an excruciatingly long day. All you want to do is to put on your softest most comfortable pajamas, grab your plumpest pillow, and lay down to sleep so that you can rest your brain. Though you may think by laying down your brain can turn off, research shows that your brain is far from resting when you are asleep. Your brain is incredibly active while you are sleeping, doing a myriad of processes while your body is at rest.
What are some of the activities that your brain is accomplishing while you are sleeping? Sleep beings with the basal forebrain. This part of the brain is responsible for letting your body know when it is time to go to sleep and time to wake up. Your brain is also actively responsible for producing melatonin, a hormone that is assistive in helping you sleep. Without either of these processes, sleep would not be possible.
Whether you are awake or asleep, your brain is in a constant state of learning. Those tidbits that you picked up during the day get locked in at night. When you try to remember something, then sleep on it, retaining this information becomes easier. A similar process happens with events that occur throughout the day. At night, these events become memories that your brain best processes and stores for retrieval in the future.
In addition to these processes, when you are fast asleep your brain is hard at work keeping your head clean. It does this by removing waste products and toxins, which in turn can help prevent things such as dementia. Have you ever thought about those vivid, mysterious, and imaginative dreams that your brain is creating? Your brain is hard at work making sure that you don’t act out these dreams during your slumber.
Now you know. You can never really turn off your brain. Though you might be able to slow down your brain, such as by centering yourself with meditation, even when you think your brain isn’t working hard it truly is moving full-speed ahead. I don't know about you, but I am glad to know this. Because my brain is also helping me to sleep well, and good sleep is exactly what I need.