Sleeping is Beneficial for the Brain

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Everyone sleeps, but there is a major mystery that involves sleep; why do we do it? In ancient and pre-historic times, when animals roamed wild, it does not seem the most ideal to be sleeping. Greek philosopher Aristotle came up with the first scientific theory of why we sleep. He believed that a person awakes from sleep once digestion of food is complete (2013). This theory has been proven to be wrong, but research shows that sleep has effects on the brain and the body. Humans sleep for about a third of their lives and there are dozens of different theories of reasons why it is actually a necessity (TED, 2013). There are three theories that stand out. They include: restoration, energy conservation, and brain processing and memory consolidation. The restoration theory is thought of that we replace and rebuild while we sleep. Energy consolidation is similar to just losing calories while we sleep. Brain processing and memory consolidation is the theory that scientist believe the brain processes information and builds memory. This theory is one that many scientists are leaning toward more than others. Sleeping is more beneficial for the brain, than the body, but sleep is beneficial for a person’s health. A person who is sleep deprived, is more susceptible for diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer (Cox, 2002). In the 1950s, the average hours of sleep for a person were 8 hours. The average hours of sleep for people now are 6.5 hours (TED, 2013). It is important that people continue to receive sleep to insure brain plasticity. Brain plasticity is the natural way the brain changes. The brain is constantly working, even during sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep ... ... middle of paper ... ...Scientists can give an electrical impulse to a pair of neurons, and they will communicate more easily in the future. This action is known as long-term potentiation (LTP). This effect will last long enough to make a memory. LTP is prevalent in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a subcortical structure that plays a role in allowing new information to be stored in the brain’s memory banks. In the awake brain, information about the external world reaches the hippocampus via the entorhinal cortex (Buzsák, 1998). During sleep, the direction of information flow is reversed: population bursts initiated in the hippocampus invade the neocortex. We suggest that neocortico-hippocampal transfer of information and the modification process in neocortical circuitries by the hippocampal output take place in a temporally discontinuous manner associated with the wake-sleep cycle.

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