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The benefits of a good night's sleep - Shai Marcu


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It’s 4am, and the big test is in 8 hours. You’ve been studying for days, but you still don’t feel ready. Should you drink another cup of coffee and spend the next few hours cramming? Or should you go to sleep? Shai Marcu defends the latter option, showing how sleep restructures your brain in a way that’s crucial for how our memory works.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

"Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1758 (in Poor Richard's Almanac)

A third of our life is spent sleeping. How much sleep a person needs changes as one ages. A new mother needs seven hours of sleep per night, but her newborn baby needs 12-18 hours of sleep per night. In general, the older you get, the less sleep you need. This can give us an idea of why sleep is so important during childhood for both growth and brain development. Without proper sleep, we derail our biological defense from heart attacks, strokes, obesity, diabetes, mood disorders and chronic bodily aches. Visit Caltech Health Education and find out what results from sleep deprivation.

The hippocampus plays an important role in helping us to remember. Are you interested in finding out more about what happens when it is removed from someone’s brain? Watch the TED-Ed lesson: What happens when you remove the hippocampus? Find out about Henry Molaison and his memory loss.

Research shows that during sleep our brain's structure is being altered. Synapses are forming during sleep. Learn what this means here. Scientists have proven that we are waking each morning with a different brain, cleansed of toxins and full of new connections from the previous day’s learning.

Many studies show the remarkable role of sleep in memory. Sound interesting? Read this article. Wondering what dreaming may have to do with all this? Watch the TEDx Talk, Sleep, Memory and Dreams: Fitting the Pieces Together.

Have you ever wondered if you can learn while you are sleeping? Read the latest research here. Can’t fall asleep at night? Need some sleeping tips? Visit the National Sleep Foundation, or the site, Sleep, Sleep Disorders and Biological Rhythms to find answers to those misconceptions you may have about sleep. Finally, for greater understanding of the third of our life we take for granted visit Harvard Medical School Sleep Division.

The track used in this animation is called “No Squirrel Commotion” by Chad Crouch.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Dr. Shai Marcu
  • Animator Javier Saldeña
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Addison Anderson