New Study Shows How Sleep Is Essential To Learning, Forming New Memories
Feb 06, 2017 11:27 AM EST
We've been told that we should get around 8 hours of sleep per day in order for us to function properly. But with the fast paced life we have now, getting the sufficient amount of sleep is hard task in itself. Now a study among mice show why sleep is essential in our daily brain function.
According to sciencedaily.com, scientists have found more concrete evidence in sleep's role in our regular brain activities. In studying mice, scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said that sleeping is responsible for recalibrating brain cells for learning and forming memory. The scientists also report that they have discovered several important molecules that govern the recalibration process while sleep deprivation, sleep disorders and sleeping pills can interfere with the process.
Graham Diering a postdoctoral fellow who led the study said that the brain can only store so much information before it needs to recalibrate it and process the data. Without sleep, a person will interfere with the natural process and may risk losing the information.
Scientists on the research team were pointing out that the process known as homeostatic scaling down in which the synapses (neural connections that carry information) weaken by a small percentage, leaving their relative strengths intact and allowing memory and learning formation to continue. However, the team found out that homeostatic scaling down only occurs during sleep. Thus by depriving yourself of sleep, you are also preventing an essential brain process that forms new memories from occurring.
The team suggests that sleep is not a downtime for the brain. Rather, sleepiness is the brain's way to signal the body that work has to be done to process the information. Diering also clarifies that sleep still remains a mystery for them as there are a countless process that happen.
What is important nonetheless is the we get enough sleep to process the information from the previous day. Insufficient sleep is a public health problem according to cdc.gov as it is linked to vehicle crashes and other occupational errors. So by sleeping properly, we don't just help ourselves, but rather everyone else.