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Study Shows that Sleep Actually Shrinks Our Brains

Proper sleep habits have long been understood as essential to physical and mental health, but the exact reasons why have still remained a matter of scientific intrigue. Recently, however, a research team released findings that shine some more light on the natural processes our bodies undergo during sleep. They found that during the hours we are unconscious, the brain takes advantage of the opportunity and actually shrinks the synapses that connect the brain's neurons by up to 20%.

The reason, the researchers presume, is to remove inconsequential information and make room for new memories to be made. Without this process, the synapses would become overloaded with information and not be able to cope. "It is critical to have pruning back at night, so that the huge amount of information encoded by temporary synapses during the day won't overwhelm the brain," says Russell Foster, a sleep researcher at the University of Oxford. "Pruning ensures that only the most important information is retained." The study also noted that this neurological activity is likely only one of many "housekeeping" items that take place during a good night's sleep, emphasizing how important rest truly is.

Potential Preaching Angles: We may often consider the theological implications of regular Sabbath and rest, but it can be fascinating to consider that God actually built humans to rest regularly.

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