When I started surfing, I was in the water every day. Every day I would do my best, however I did not make any progress. The more time I spent in the water, the harder it got. So, I left it. I did not surf for an entire month, and when I got back in the water, BOOM. It was easy. A similar process is at work whenever we think too much about a problem. The more we work on solving it, the less obvious the solution becomes. What to do? Sleep!
Indeed, the solution is what our parents always told us: “Sleep over it”. More than just being very pleasurable and necessary for the body, sleep also has its positive effects on the brain. Whenever we learn something new, whether that might be a skill or maybe just some theoretical knowledge, it is during our sleep that our brain fully refines the neural networks responsible.
During the beginning phases, or light sleep, we tend to integrate theoretical concepts, ideas, thoughts, etc. During and after REM sleep, we build the networks for integrating any physical skill we learnt, at least that is what recent research tells us. It was also shown that certain stimulation of the brain during those phases can enhance this learning process (yet, please refrain from stripping lamp wires and sticking them to your head!!).
For me, more than one night of sleep was necessary to be able to surf. Sometimes, it might take a while, but how great is it knowing that during our sleep, our brain is working to help us integrate what we learnt. With that in mind, I think it is time for some rest for my brain…Sweet Dreams!