Researchers claim that sleeping is important for us to stay healthy, to think clearly, to be creative and productive and to remember things effectively. People lacking sleep often feel unfocused, tired and irritated. As we sleep, our brain analyzes and sorts out information from our day time activities and tidies its own biological system.
It is known that any of our action either strengthens existing neuron patterns or creates new ones. If we don’t use some stored information for a long period of time, the neuron connections corresponding to this knowledge get weakened. Throughout the day, the brain carries out its day-to-day work: creating strong connections responsible for important experiments and weakenening neuron connections accountable for insignificant information. Knowledge accumulated within the day is stored in short-term memory. During sleep, the brain transforms our short-term memory into long-term memory. This happens as a result of the strengthening of synapses that support the necessary information. As a result, the strengthened neuron connections receive more energy, while the unnecessary information is cleared from our brain to make room for more useful information. This process contributes to improved memorizing and learning.
Importantly, the brain needs sleep in order to clean itself to get rid of unnecessary information, which are otherwise waste. Scientists from the University of Rochester (USA) have revealed that while we sleep, the brain takes out its biochemical protein waste through a special refuse collection and disposal system, known as the glymphatic system. During sleep, this system is activated. The glymphatic system is composed of glial cells, which form canals. These tube-like canals, in which cerebrospinal fluid circulates, envelope the circulatory system. Bathing the neurons and absorbing debris, the cerebrospinal fluid moves through tubes and transmits biological waste through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. It is interesting that in sleep, the distance between neurons is increased by sixty percent. Neuron cells shrink to broaden the canals for the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid, providing it access to the glymphatic system. Neuroscientists believe that inefficiency of such cleaning may provoke problems with some brain functions, in particular, with memorizing.
In summary, to be healthy and to have a productive brain, one would need quality sleep for a sufficient period to allow the brain time to complete all the necessary tasks it needs to perform to be ready to face the next day .
Svetlana Stroganova, Nikolai Shmelev