Sleeping is one of the great mysteries of biology, says Helsingin Sanomat in the story. We cannot fully explain the purpose of the dream in the course of evolution.
There are many theories about the meaning of sleep. One explanation for the purpose of sleep can hardly ever be found, says the docent Tarja Stenberg, who leads the Helsinki Sleep Team research group at the University of Helsinki.
The effects on the brain – and especially on memory and learning – have been studied the most. A huge number of studies show that sleeping after learning improves learning outcomes. Sleep strengthens memory.
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“One of the key things is that during the night, information from the hippocampal’s working memory is encoded in the cerebral cortex into permanent memory.”
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During the previous few days or even weeks, the brain transfers information stored in the working memory while awake.
Sleep strengthens the connections between nerve cells, or synapses. This is undeniably an important function of sleep. But in addition to strengthening, sleep on the other hand also cuts connections.
Sleeping is also essential for mental health. Sleep regulates our mood.
“Insomnia is one of the best known risk factors for depression, and it’s also one clear reason why insomnia should be treated,” says the professor of psychiatry. Tiina Paunio From the University of Helsinki and the Department of Health and Welfare.
He leads the University of Helsinki’s Sleepwell program, which also includes Stenberg’s sleep research group.
In addition, insomnia increases the risk of anxiety. However, the causal link between anxiety and sleep is more complex than depression.
Sleep also cleanses waste products from the brain. This task has only been identified for a relatively short time. Danish professor Maiken Nedergaard with colleagues reports to the brain cleaning system In Science in 2013. Evidence for the functioning of the so-called glyphate system is still largely based on rodent experiments, and more research is needed on its significance in humans.
The glycemic system works most actively during deep sleep. The cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain is then able to flush the interstitial spaces of the brain tissue deeper than when awake. In sleep deprivation, the function of a system called a brain washing machine or drainage network may be impaired.
If and when lack of sleep interferes with the functioning of the drainage network, the clearance of beta-amyloid protein from the brain may also be disrupted. It can be fatal, as in the most common memory disease, Alzheimer’s, beta-amyloid plaque accumulates in the cortex of the brain.
Exploring the importance of sleep has focused so much on the brain that the rest of the body has received less attention. However, other parts of the body also suffer from lack of sleep.
Demographic studies clearly show that people with sleep deprivation or sleep disorders have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than those who sleep well.
Sleep deprivation – as well as stress or gout crystals, for example – activates the natural immune system. A mild inflammatory condition develops in the body.
Indeed, a low-grade inflammatory condition has been suggested as an explanation for why malnutrition increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Source: Tiede by www.tiede.fi.
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