Sleep is so mysterious. An area of study for several years, with scientists searching for the benefits. In more recent studies, scientists decided to dive a little deeper into the brain, attempting to uncover the reason for slow electrical waves present in scans that seemed to detox the brain.
They claim that it may have something to do with the behavior that nerve cells are exhibiting at that moment, clearing out of the way of the pulsing waves making a path for cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). The abilities of CSF to clean pathways have been known for some time, showing that the fluid literally clears blocks set in by stresses and tensions of the day, further bringing to light the need to reach a deep sleep state.
Disease and Sleep
The link between disease and lack of sleep seems to become clearer the more research is conducted however; scientists have never really been able to say why. This is where the motivation for the study from Boston University’s Biomedical Engineering team began. Of all the elements they chose to monitor, it was CSF that showed the most significant answer to the question ‘why?’. This surge of fluid to the brain has the ability to decrease the presence of toxins that when built up, lead to chronic diseases. While this study was conducted with the specific purpose to uncover a link between both sleep and Alzheimer’s, it also serves a purpose to reveal the importance of sleep to overall health as well. One research group from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found in a study that only one night of without sleep caused an increased amount of beta-amyloid, an amino acid whose build up in the brain is directly linked to the disease. This deprivation didn’t give the brain a chance to go into its deep relaxed state, which is accompanied by decreased blood flow.
What Happens During Deep Sleep?
During a deep sleep state, the body does strange things and may act in ways that are unnatural during the awake state. During the deepest and most beneficial times of sleep, the brain switches to a hazy unconscious state, one that somehow is the most awake one can be. This is the stage of sleep where dreams come into play, seeming to release inner energies from somewhere deep within the consciousness. During deep sleep, breathing increases to a faster rate, the body could become paralyzed, eyes dart back and forth at a rapid rate, and the heartbeat mimics that of the awake state. This is the time when miracles happen, with a combination of bodily functions working in harmony to restore the mind and body. Some restorative activities are:
Mainly coming from the pituitary gland, an increased amount of secretion of these hormones is seen during the stages of deep sleep. This is the gland responsible for human growth hormone (HGH) and other hormones that promote regeneration of the body.
Metabolism of Glucose
This has a direct effect on both short-term and long-term memory. This is also the substance that is most important to the brainpower needed for learning and retention. During deep sleep, an increase in metabolism is responsible for giving the brain the fuel it needs to be more effective during waking hours.
In combination with an increase of blood supply circulating through the body along with the processes and hormones needed to grow and repair tissues and bones, the immune system gets powered up. This is thanks to the many areas that go through a sort of ‘deep cleaning’ during sleep, making room for new and more effective cells and regenerated cells that are ready to take on the presence of toxins.
How Much Sleep Should We Get?
Well, the only bummer about this deep sleep state is the amount of time that is actually spent here. Typically, this state lasts between 30 to 120 minutes with the rest of the time spent in the processes of either falling into the deep state or remaining on the thin line between awake and asleep. Still, it is recommended for all to get sleep in a range from 7 to 9 hours per night. Studies have shown that any less than 7 (even just half an hour) decreases the body and mind’s ability to function efficiently drastically. 7+ hours of sleep showed an overall increase in behavior, including mood, productivity, and overall learning ability. Don’t think though that this is the only trick, it’s not just the amount of sleep, it is the quality of sleep that is the most important. This is the reason why the amount of time spent in a deep slumber decreases with age, as youngsters that are still growing need hours of quality sleep to grow while adults need less and typically get only about 30 minutes at age 65 and up.
What Does This Mean for Me?
Researchers are still looking at some factors that can help sleepers stay in a deeper sleep longer. Of the areas which are hottest are eating habits, exercise, and repetitive activities. There is not a sure way to guarantee you get deeper sleep more often, but some practices are sure to help.
Of all the studies conducted, this new discovery of the powers of CSF shines new light on the prevention of illnesses and diseases. Though the potential of CSF has been known for some time, its connection to deep sleep and its role in removing toxins is new news indeed. If researchers can find a sure way to increase the amount of deep sleep, things like Alzheimer’s could sharply decrease. To answer the question, this means a new way of looking at sleep, one that calls everyone to pay attention and put more efforts and energy into getting the recommended number of hours of sleep per night. We only have one life to live, so we might as well make it a well-rested one.