"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

'Sleeping on it' really helps and 4 other recent sleep research breakthroughs

Twenty six years. That is, roughly How much of our lives spent sleeping. Scientists try to elucidate why we spend a lot time sleeping, at the very least. Ancient GreekBut determining the precise functions of sleep has proven difficult.

Over the past decade, the character and performance of sleep has increased the interest of researchers. Along with advances in technology and analytical techniques, latest experimental models are giving us a deeper look contained in the sleeping brain. Here are the most important recent advances in sleep science.

1. We know more about lucid dreams.

No longer on the fringes, the neuroscientific study of dreaming has now entered the mainstream.

In a 2017 study, American researchers woke their participants at intervals through the night and asked them what was going through their minds before the alarm call. Sometimes participants couldn’t recall a dream. The study team then checked out what happened. happening in the mind of the participant. Moments before waking up.

Participants' recall of dream content was related to increased activity in a region of the brain's posterior cingulate cortex. Associated with consciousness. Researchers can assess the presence or absence of dream experiences by monitoring this zone in real time.

Another exciting development within the study of dreams is research into lucid dreams, wherein you grow to be aware that you just are dreaming. A 2021 study was established. Two-way communication Between a dreamer and a researcher. In this experiment, participants indicated to the researcher that they were dreaming by moving their eyes in a pre-agreed manner.

The researcher read math problems (What is eight minus six?). The dreamer can answer this query with eye movements. The dreamers were accurate, indicating that that they had access to higher-level cognitive functions. Researchers used polysomnographywhich monitors physiological functions comparable to respiratory and brain activity during sleep, to verify that participants were sleeping.

These findings have dream researchers excited concerning the way forward for “interactive dreaming,” comparable to practicing a skill or solving an issue in our dreams.

2. Our brain replays memories after we sleep.

This yr marks the centenary of the primary demonstration. Sleep improves our memory.. However, a 2023 review of recent research suggests that memories are formed through the day. Activate again after we are sleeping. The researchers discovered this by utilizing machine learning techniques to “decode” the contents of the sleeping brain.

2021 study found that training an algorithm to tell apart between different memories while awake made it possible for a similar neural patterns to re-emerge within the sleeping brain. Also in 2021, a distinct study found that the more often these patterns re-emerge during sleep, Big advantage For memory

In other ways, scientists have managed to reactivate some memories Playback sounds related to the memory in query while the participant was asleep. Oh 2020 Meta-analysis of 91 trials It was found that when the participants' memory was tested after sleep, they remembered the stimuli whose sounds were played back during sleep, in comparison with the control stimuli whose sounds weren’t played back.

First, latest memories are paired with individual sounds. During sleep, these sounds are replayed, reactivating the neural representation of that memory.
Carbone and Dickelman (2024). NPJ Science of Learning

Research has also shown that sleep improves memory. The most important aspects From an experience, reconstructs our memories. A more coherent narrative And helps us come along. Solutions to problems We are stuck. Science is showing that sleeping on it really helps.

3. Sleep keeps our brain healthy.

We all know that lack of sleep makes us feel bad. Laboratory sleep deprivation studies, where researchers keep willing participants awake overnight, have been combined. Functional MRI brain scan To paint an in depth picture of a sleep-deprived brain. These studies show that sleep deprivation is severely disruptive. The connectivity between Different brain networks. These changes include impaired communication between brain regions. Responsible for cognitive controland a nurturing of those involved Threat and emotional processing.

The result’s that the sleep-deprived brain is in poor condition. Learning new information, Poor in controlling emotionsand is unable to. Suppress intrusive thoughts. Lack of sleep may make you less more likely to fall. Help other people. These findings may explain why sleep quality is the best way it’s. Poor mental health everywhere.

4. Sleep protects us from neurodegenerative diseases.

Although we naturally We sleep less as we agegrowing evidence suggests that sleep problems early in life Increased risk of dementia

Formation of β-amyloid, a Metabolic waste products, is considered one of the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease. Recently, it has grow to be clear that deep, uninterrupted sleep is sweet for him. In-toxin flushing out of mind. Lack of sleep increases the speed of β-amyloid formation in parts of the brain involved in memory. such as the hippocampus. A longitudinal study published in 2020 found that sleep problems were related to higher rates of β-amyloid deposition at follow-up. Four years later. In a distinct study published in 2022, sleep parameters rate forecast Cognitive decline in participants over the subsequent two years.

5. We can engineer sleep

The excellent news is that research is developing treatments to show you how to get a greater night's sleep and increase its advantages.

For example, the European Sleep Research Society And American Academy of Sleep Medicine Prescribe cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I works. Identifying the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that result in insomnia, which may be modified to assist promote sleep.

In 2022, a CBT-I app became available. The first digital therapy Recommended by England's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for treatment on the NHS.

These interventions may improve other points of our lives. Oh 2021 meta-analysis 65 clinical trials found that improving sleep through CBT-I reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, rumination, and stress.