- Sleep (~7 hours) helps with consolidation of memories (placement of memories in "long term storage" within their meaningful context.)
- There maybe wakeful moments when memory consolidation occurs as well.
Yet sleep may not be the only time period in our lives that such an important task takes place. If you listen between the lines in the NPR Science Friday podcast (mp3 download) you will hear that there are moments during waking hours where the brain also consolidates and processes memories. These are the moments where we sometimes catch ourselves or others "zoning out".
Zoning out is when someone seems to be just staring off into space (usually for shorter periods than daydreaming but daydreaming may well be a a form of this) for a few seconds or so before re-emerging into the present moment. My three year old does that, it seems, a lot. I've been starting to call those moments her zombie moment. She'll be engauged with us in conversation or interaction of some sort then freeze, staring off into space. I think, now that I have heard this podcast, that I'll call them memory moments.
I will research this further to see what scientific evidence there is to support the idea and will write a follow-up.
So remember the next time your son or daughter or your partner is just staringing into space when you were talking to them, it may be that they are doing something healthful and helpful for themselves. Or it may just be that they don't want to take out the trash.
A note to readers. If you have any ideas on health and diet that you would like to see researched in the scientific literature and addressed in a maner you might understand please email me at macclune (at) gmail.com. I cannot promise that I will address every question but I will try.
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