If you have ever stayed up late and got so tired that you reached a point where you just started saying things that didn’t make a lot of sense, then you know your brain requires energy. We all know that when we are fresh and revitalized we feel like we are thinking quicker, making smart decisions and being more productive. This all makes sense. Read on to find out why.
The reason is simple, your brain thrives on energy. Of all your body parts your brain is one of the most greedy. In a resting state the brain consumers on average 20% of the body’s total energy level. Considering all the other muscles that are working, for one of them to take a fifth of the energy is pretty selfish. In reality, there is just so much happening in the brain that it needs a constant supply of energy to keep running.
The majority of this energy is taken by the synapses. Synapses are the gaps between neurons in the brain. They transport information from one nerve cell to another. These synapses communicated using electric or chemical signals and both require a lot of energy to produce. Picture a little factory in your head trying to generate the electric signal required for every piece of information that passes around your brain.
Some activities require more energy than others yet the brain is generally consuming a steady amount all the time, even when you are sleeping or staring at a blank wall. Spikes in energy usage are when the brain needs to do something quickly. Hearing or speaking are good examples as you can’t really afford to listen slowly or you will miss half the conversation. Smelling, on the other hand, can happen slowly and is something to savor (assuming it is a good smell).
The lesson here is simple, rest is important. If you are not properly rested and your brain still wants more of your energy it will either suffer or take it from other muscles that need it too. This is why sometimes your brain seems in a fog when you are tired. It is like trying to walk up a hill after already running a race. Give your body and mind the greatest chance to do their best. Give them the rest they need.