Sleep more, its good for your brain
Students who have exams are known to burn the midnight oil to study. However, investigation by American and Chinese researchers suggests that students need sleep to better remember their lessons.
A research on sleep funded by the US National Institutes of Health and carried out by New York University School of Medicine and New York University School of Medicine revealed that sleep helps memory and learning. In a study on lab mice, the researchers wanted to see how sleep or lack of sleep affected the connections of nerve cells in the brain.
To do this, the researchers had two groups of mice undergo a task. One group was allowed to sleep after the task while the second group was not allowed.
They found out that the mice that slept were able to develop new nerve cell connections called dendrites. These pass electrical signals from one nerve cell to the next. Formation of new dendrites is associated with the plasticity of the brain, enabling it to ‘record’ new memory, learning and experience.
Meanwhile, the mice that were sleep-deprived did not show new dendrite connections.
The researchers also tested to see if the initial depravation of the second group of mice could be ‘recovered’ by allowing them to sleep longer. After 16 hours of sleep, they found out that the sleep-deprived mice still had fewer nerve cell connections than the first group of mice.
Through this research, scientists are now able to pinpoint the mechanism of learning in the brain. They emphasised that this is so far applicable only to mice and have no direct application to humans. However, the research reveals that sleep certainly plays a big role in learning.