The secret brain tips of napping babies
Do you wish you were a baby? Like you're trying to take it all in, but then you just need a nap?
Seriously - think about watching a newborn baby attempting to take in sensory information. You will remember the startle reflex, the adjustments when the skin touches water, the quick eye movements when a new sound is heard, the response to light, color, texture, internal body sensations, etc.
The sheer number of sensations are overwhelming and the infant soon falls asleep and tries again after several hours. Soon, the child learns to delete more and more sensations so they can focus on what’s important and are able to manage overwhelm.
By the time we're old enough to read emails, we're also old enough to delete the vast majority of them. My sister just spent a week deleting almost 10,000 unread emails!
In the same way, the brain becomes adept at deleting the vast majority of all the information available. Studies show that sensory information arrives at between 50,000 to 2,000,000 bits per second, while the brain can only actually process about 5 +/- 2 of those bits. Those few bits are carefully curated by the brain and are prioritized for survival.
When an event happens, it passes through the brain’s filters and is deleted, distorted and generalized into an internal representation specific to the person and their culture and context.
These distorted meanings become thoughts, which are accompanied by emotions, which then show up as body language and behavior. That behavior rejoins the pool of observable reality, free to be filtered and interpreted by others.
So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, check in with your thoughts. What's being distorted or deleted? What are you seeing that's not there? What might you see from someone else's perspective? Then, consider taking a nap.