What Does the Brain Do when We Are Sleeping?
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What Does the Brain Do when We Are Sleeping?

The brain is a mysterious composition of parts which all have specific duties. The brain is divided into several parts. The cerebral cortex, alone, is composed of approximately 100 billion nerve cells. If you think your brain is sleeping when you do, think again. Your brain is very busy during sleep.

The brain is a mysterious composition of parts which all have specific duties.  The brain is divided into several parts. The cerebral cortex, alone, is composed of approximately 100 billion nerve cells.  If you think your brain is sleeping when you do, think again.  Your brain is very busy during sleep.

What our brain does when we sleep

When we go to sleep our brain is busy consolidating what we have learned that day. Our brain is busy putting some of the things we have learned into a type of memory file for future recall, while other things we have learned that aren’t so important are discarded. The brain also restores information that may have been forgotten during your waking hours.

Our brain can also help us to problem solve during sleep. If you have been pondering on a specific problem, and you can’t find an answer to your dilemma, try sleeping on it. Your brain can retrieve information that will give you ideas on how to solve your problem.

While we are sleeping, our brain is busy determining what memories we will keep and what memories we need to forget. An example of this might be something like: You have gone through an emotional upset, it can be a severe emotional trauma and then as you sleep your memory begins to fade so that while you might remember the incident, the pain associated with that incident may not have as much power over your waking life. Each day when you wake up your emotional pain decreases because your brain has been changing how you stored the memory. Some aspects of the original memory have been muted or totally discarded.

As part of the memory process, our brain makes sense of what we have learned and puts our memories in proper order. We take it for granted how we can remember a specific sequence of events. We don’t really have to think about what came first. If asked a question about an event, we can recall the information we received during the waking hours. It is during sleep where we develop our long term memory.

There are different types of memory and the brain collates the information we receive into the proper memory file. See the types of memory below.

Types of memory

Procedural memory – This is also known as non-declarative memory. Procedural memory allows us to follow through with a task. We can do it because we remembered how. For instance, you know how to make biscuits without a recipe because you remember the steps on how to make them. You don’t have to think about how to make biscuits, because it is automatic.

Declarative memory – This is one type of long term memory. Declarative memory allows us to remember the events that have happened in our lives.

The difference between these two types of memory is that procedural memory allows you to remember how to do things, and declarative memory allows you to remember things that have happened in your life. These are two different memory files in the brain.

Short-term memory – Small amounts of information is stored in the short-term memory. Short-term memory is also called our primary memory or active memory. After a period of time, important memories are transferred into the long-term memory.

Sensory memory – There are three different types of sensory memory. They are as follows:

Iconic memory – Iconic memory is the ability to remember what we see. We are able to draw a tree because we remember what a tree looks like.

Echoic memory – Echoic memory is being able to remember what we hear. We are able to recall a specific melody to a song because we remember what it sounds like.

Haptic memory – Haptic memory is the memory of touch. We are able to describe a kiss because we remember what it feels like.


The brain never really goes to sleep. It’s always on duty. The brain will take the things we have learned through all of our senses and make sense of them during the hours of sleep. Not only does the brain consolidate memories, but it also tells the immune system to repair itself.

Image credit: Wikipedia


Wikipedia was used for all of the different types of memories

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I don't think my notifications are going out. I didn't get any notifications that my articles were published. In fact, on both articles when I publish it goes to an error page. When I hit the back button it says I'm editing a published article. Some glitch I guess.