Researchers claim that sleeping well helps a person retain and boost memory.
Previously, researches have pointed out the relation between sleeping well and enhancing memory. Researchers say that if a person does not sleep well then he/she will not be able to learn well too. However, a new study has now giving evidence on how sleep strengthens the neural connections in the brain.
"But what's the underlying physical mechanism responsible for this phenomenon? Here we've shown how sleep helps neurons form very specific connections on dendritic branches that may facilitate long-term memory. We also show how different types of learning form synapses on different branches of the same neurons, suggesting that learning causes very specific structural changes in the brain," says senior investigator Wen-Biao Gan, professor of neuroscience and physiology and a member of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center.
Scientists say that memory comprises the alteration of synapses that connects the brain cells. Previous studies suggested that sleep improves the merging of recently-formed memories in people. However, the observations of prior studies are sometimes deemed unclear.
For the purpose of the study, Gan and his team trained 15 mice to run forwards or backwards on top of a rotating rod. The researchers let some of the mice to sleep for seven hours while others were kept awake.
With the help of a microscope, the researchers monitored the living brain of the mice to check the results when they were sleeping or were awake. The scientists found that the brains of the sleeping mice were able to form much more new links between neurons, which means that these mice were learning more.
The researchers also observed disrupted phases of sleep and found that deep or slow-wave sleep was, in fact, essential for the formation of memory.
Health advocates are concerned that many people underestimate the importance of sleeping well. Deprived sleep may also lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, cancer and more.
Prior studies have indicated that lack of shut eye may cause a build-up of rogue proteins in the eye that may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease in an individual. The latest study now adds up to the importance of good sleep in a person's daily routine.
The study has been published in the journal Science.