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If you don’t fall asleep, you lose: sleep is considered essential to the brain


Two-year-old Biancatoniolo sleeps at her home in San Fiorano, surrounded by her toy dolls.

Washington (Reuters)-Scientists have a more complete understanding of the important role sleep plays in brain health, with a sudden transition at about 2.4 years of age when the primary goal shifts from brain construction to maintenance and repair. Is identified.

Researchers on Friday said they had done a statistical analysis of data from more than 60 sleep studies. They examined sleep time, duration of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, brain size and body size, and devised a mathematical model of how sleep changes during development.

There are basically two types of sleep, each associated with specific brain waves and neural activity. REM, with its eyes moving quickly from side to side behind the closed eyelids, is a deep sleep with vibrant dreams. Non-REM sleep is almost dreamless.

During REM sleep, the brain forms new neural connections by building and strengthening synapses (junctions between nerve cells or neurons). This allows nerve cells or neurons to communicate, enhance learning, and integrate memory. During sleep, the brain also repairs only a small portion of the daily neurological damage that normally occurs in genes and proteins within neurons, removing accumulated by-products.

The findings showed that at about 2.4 years of age, the main function of sleep changed from building and disconnecting connections during REM sleep to nerve repair during REM and non-REM sleep.

“It was shocking to us that this transition was like a switch and very sharp,” said UCLA’s professor of ecology, evolutionary biology, and computational medicine, published in Science Advance. I am a senior author of the research.

REM sleep decreases with age. Newborns who sleep about 16 hours each day spend about 50% of their sleep time on REM, with a marked decrease in about 2.4 years. It drops to about 25% by the age of 10 and to about 10% to 15% around the age of 50.

“Sleep is necessary throughout the animal kingdom and is ubiquitous, much like eating and breathing,” said Van Savage. “I think it is a pillar of human health.”

Report by Will Dunham. Edited by Jonathan Oatis


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