Sleep To Improve Memory
Sleeping â€˜wipes our brains clearâ€™ to make room for new memories, new studies have found.
12:21 06 February 2017
Two research papers published in the journal Science have provided an explanation as to what happens when we sleep. According to the scientists, the connections in our brains are tense at the end of day due to the enormous amount of information that we absorb during our waking hours. Sleep, they say, weakens those connections, wipes our brain clean, and makes room for new memories.
The first of the two new studies is a 13-year-old investigation by Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In their experiment involving mice, they found that the connections between brain cells shrunk by around 18per cent during sleep.
The second paper conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University found that sleeping mice absorb a protein called homer1a. This protein loosens the connections between synapses that are built up by memories and information.
Professor Christoph Nissen, the psychiatrist who led the study, said: 'Still we do not really know why we spend such a long time of our lives in this inactive state, so sleep must have a very important function,' Nissen explained.
'Otherwise it's just a very big mistake that evolution made.
'Our study highlights the importance of sleep, and the notion that sleep is a highly active brain process, not a waste of time.'