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Friday, June 7, 2013

Memory and Sleep

According to recent theory of how memory works, while we are asleep our minds are busy sorting through the day's events, matching patterns up with older memories, and re-storing everything in its new place, with like events. This shuffling of images, old and new, is supposedly what creates our dreams.

Interestingly, this same theory predicts that all those times your mother said, "You'll feel better in the morning," she was right. As the mind sorts, it also takes the emotional edge off the more painful experiences, or so goes the theory. In the morning, you really should feel a little better about whatever was troubling you the night before.

Does this surprise me? It does not. I have written before about how the unconscious minds solves problems for me (solving a math proof that eluded my waking mind, finding an error in a client report before it went out, etc.), so to hear that the unconscious mind is looking out for me emotionally as well is not shocking to me, but rather comforting.

However, I have been wondering if there are times, for the sake of creativity (if not for other reasons), that I would rather not lose the edge on my pain? Are there times when I want to hold on the worst feelings in order to use them as impetus for art (if not for self-flagellation)? And if so, does that mean I should try to stay awake at those times until I feel I am done with the first impression of a bad experience?

Is that why I have so much trouble sleeping?


Tressa said...

I keep a notebook by the bed so I can jot down things when I can't get to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night having a minor freak out. It helps.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Great tip, Tressa, thanks.