Tag Archives: Memory Consolidation

Sleep like a baby

One of our coffee time conversations last week was about sleep. My colleague told me that she was having disturbed sleep these days that makes her drowsy during the day. I suggested her some techniques to for getting a sound sleep. Then it occurred to me that there could be many who would actually benefit from this and hence this post. A sound sleep for me is very important, without which my cognitive abilities do not function properly. A good sleep is also important for a good memory because the data transfer from the temporary memory to the permanent memory is done during sleep (this is called memory consolidation and that’s the reason why people under the influence of alcohol do not remember what happened on the previous night. An alcohol induced sleep is of poor quality and hence the memory transfer does not take place).

Here is a brilliant technique that I have come across for getting a sound sleep. This is practiced by the ancient sages in India and suits people who lead a very stressful existence.

When you retire to bed, lie on your back, relax you body and close your eyes. Now trace all the events of the day backwards from the point of closing your eyes. Just watch yourself going through the activities in the reverse order. Recollect as much of detail as you can including what was going on in your mind. Continue this till the point of waking up in the morning (most of us won’t make it past the evening, we would already be asleep)

Try this. You will sleep like a baby.

This is not a technique to get a good sleep alone. The real purpose is to remove the subconscious impressions in the mind that are caused by the days activities. After few days of practicing this, you will find your mind very lighter. So if you have lots of emotional stress in your life, you know what to do.

Right brain or the left brain? Does it really matter?

Science has now agreed that there is a right brain and a left brain and in most of the people one brain dominates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralization_of_brain_function) The left brain is the logical guy responsible for reasoning and all the logical activities and the right one is the creative one. People who are right brainers tend to be more creative, emotional kind.

Recently I was reading something on memory consolidation. Studies reveal how the permanent memory is getting built. For e.g when you are reading an article, it is your left brain who is absorbing it (The right brain can’t tolerate these boring stuff, so it takes you a for a short break; that’s when you day dream while doing something..)But what is absorbed by the left brain is not written to your ‘permanent memory’. This process takes place during sleep and is now called memory consolidation(here also not everything is written, the left brain drops what’s not important, like your lunch menu..). So if you don’t get a good sleep, some of the events of the day might never get stored in your memory.

 On the other hand, what’s absorbed by the right brain directly gets in to your ‘permanent memory’. But the right brain doesn’t really like boring articles, books, presentations etc. It needs passion, colors, expressions, involvement and all that weird stuff you can imagine. Look at the learning pyramid  for eg ; more it becomes right brainy stuff, more the retention.

I think as small children, we were all right brainers. Then the education system started making us more logical (at some point we felt ourselves that every thing needs to have a reson), then the environment around us and finally the job. It is not surprising that a majority of SW engineers in India do not have a hobby (sorry I don’t count browsing, chatting, orkutting…)And we keep wondering what happened to life? Why is it so monotonous ? Why is it so dry?

The good news is that the right brain is not dead. It just needs some attention and pampering. And you can see the creativity (and joy – true creativity is always associated with joy..) coming back again. Start doing something creative – painting , writing, music, crafts, sculpting, dancing..something that you find interesting. This will also give you the High you need  !

Tough now there is a lot of hype about right brain and stuff like intuition , insight etc, I think at a middle management level and below right brainers will have a tough time. Because our institutions demand logical reasoning for opinions and decisions, which a right brainer is very bad at. Partly also because many top executives (who talk of stuff like intuition etc) don’t really understand what it means to have a insight which looks logically stupid.

Now the golden question is – is there a way to enjoy the best of both ? A mind both creative and logical could be deadly; and we have seen people (though rarely) like that. I think the answer is in Mindfulness . When I first tried  to understand Mindfulness, I could make out that it is bringing something together. What was it – I thought it to be conscious and the subconscious mind. But that wasn’t true.  I think it is the left and the right brain that mindfulness brings together.  I think the awareness gives you a choice to get both the perceptions (or the best one) from both the brains on an issue at hand.

I am not really sure at the moment. This is again a hunch. But soon I am going to give it a try, will tell you my experience.

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