The Brain and Sleep

Sleep is essential to proper brain functioning.

  • When the brain is asleep the brain is not resting. (Medina)
  • Sleep is one of the most important ways we integrate memory and emotion.  Dreams occur when the sophisticated area of our brain is uninhibited enough to allow the lower areas of the brain to run wild with imagination and feelings. (Siegel)
  • Dreams are a mixture of memories in search of resolution.  They are leftover elements of the day’s events, sensory information taken in while we’re asleep, and simple random images generated by our brain during the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stages of sleep.  (Siegel)
  • Before memories can be fully integrated they must go through a process called “consolidation,” which seems to depend on the REM phase of sleep. (Siegel)
  • For people who have experienced trauma, REM sleep is often interrupted. This may be partly responsible for their memories remaining unprocessed. (Siegel)
  • These unprocessed memories may cause sensations such as flashbacks, nightmares and a sense that the trauma is ongoing rather than in the past. (Siegel)

Taken from Brain Rules by John Medina & Mindsight by Daniel Siegel

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