Sleep is not a default mode during which the brain shuts down. In fact, the brain is very busy as we sleep. It is consolidating memories based on the sensory information we took in during the day by backing up this information it creates new synapses, or connections, between different neurons. The brain also produces quite a few hormones at night. The sleep hormone melatonin is produced when we sleep. In fact, people who have insufficient sleep produce less growth hormones. This is extremely important for children because a lack of sleep can reduce the amount of this important hormone and can hinder growth.
At night, the brain also detoxifies. During the daytime, brain cells absorb and process nutrients, creating unwanted toxic by-products. These toxins are cleaned up when we sleep, and new brain cells are created through the process of neurogenesis. In this way, our brain is like an office: when you come into the office in the morning, you don’t think that anyone was working overnight, but actually a lot of things were happening. The trash was taken out, and repair people might have come in to upgrade the servers or replace the light bulbs. All this work has to go on so that you come in and start a fresh new day.

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