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How Does Sleep Rewire Our Brain?



Thousands of adults among us suffer from anxiety and depression these days. The cause of this anxiety disorder may seem different for individuals but a common factor that can easily reduce this stress and heal an anxious brain is – enjoying a deep sleep each night.

Yes, good sleep is potential enough to stabilize our emotions and thereby, to sooth our brain. Want to know how does it do this? According to the sleep science, there are various stages of sleep. Researchers found that Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) sleep – one of the most significant stages of sleep, helps the most to reorganize the brain and let it calm down.

What happens exactly in Non-REM sleep? At Non-REM sleep, neural oscillations become highly synchronized. Besides, the heart rates as well as our blood pressure drops. This stage is also known as deep sleep as it helps our brain and body to get well-rested. Hence, if one continues the practice of sleeping well each night, the deep sleep works as a natural anxiety inhibitor and the individual’s brain gets healed.

UC Berkeley researchers studied this subject thoroughly. They found that spending a sleepless night can make someone up to 30% more anxious the next day. They have also noted that even the functional tests like MRI and polysomnography show a significant difference between a well-rested brain and a sleepless brain. The study showed a significant difference in the anxiety levels also in between the two brains, where the only difference in activities was sleep.

To explain it further, after a sleepless night, the brain scan report shows a shutdown of the medial prefrontal cortex, which normally helps keep our anxiety in check. On the other hand, the brain’s deeper emotional centers are seen as overactive due to lack of sleep. When a brain gets a good amount of sleep, the same test shows dropped anxiety levels.

"Deep sleep had restored the brain's prefrontal mechanism that regulates our emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety," quoted Eti Ben Simon, the study's lead author.

So, sleep better and live better. #Time2sleep

Source: University of California- Berkeley