February 28, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
Here’s a professional effectiveness tip I can really embrace. Sleep – with a clear directive to my cortex before I nod off to coordinate with my hippocampus while I peacefully slumber. Let me explain.
Research has long confirmed the vital role of sleep in mental functioning. Sleep is the time when the mind moves short-term events and memories into long-term mental storage. New research has found, however, that the process is not automatic. It works best when we explicitly direct our mind to do its thing because we know we’ll want to use the information in the future.
New research by six German scientists published in the Journal of Neuroscience and reported in Newsweek, explains why this is so. My take on the science: expecting to use information later primes the mind for a deeper kind of sleep where slow electrical waves cause the hippocampus to replay the information and bursts of electrical energy – the researchers call them “sleep spindles” – prime the cortex to receive the hippocampus’s data and to store and integrate it into existing knowledge for easy retrieval.
So no more sleepless nights for me before a keynote or big presentation, tossing and turning and rehearsing the material in my mind. I’m going to sleep my way to a memorable performance.