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Deep sleep: 4 things to know

Jul 02,2021

When thinking about the mechanism of sleep, three letters often come to mind: REM These letters also refer to the REM phase of sleep . REM (for Rapid Eye Movement) sleep has a reputation for being a highly coveted and elusive phase of sleep that recharges your batteries.
It also stores your memories and houses your dreams. But unlike everything you can read about sleep science, REM sleep is not an end in itself. It is also not the most important part of the night. There is another phase of sleep that is even more crucial for overall health. This is deep sleep .

Deep sleep is a part of the typical sleep cycle that occurs every night. It occurs between light sleep and REM sleep. It has several functions in the restoration and evolution of your brain. Here are the four things you need to know about it, and how to make sure you get it every night.

1 / Deep sleep regenerates energy in the brain.

Although it may seem hard to believe, when you are asleep your brain is actually in an active state. Brain waves continue, slow down and increase depending on where you are in your sleep cycle. When awake, brain waves move in a similar fashion during REM sleep. 

In a 2010 study of sleep and energy levels, scientists observed a surge of energy during these slow oscillations. This means that deep sleep repairs the body and stores energy for the next day's tasks. You can thank him tomorrow for all the energy you will have in the morning!

2 / Memories are created during deep sleep.

You've probably heard that sleep turns everyday facts into memories overnight. But how exactly does this process work? It is the work of deep sleep. A 2016 study on sleep and memory showed slow oscillations indicate communication between the hippocampus (which stores your recently acquired memories) and the cortex (where long-term memory is stored). We can thank him for the declarative memory in particular. It matches memories that can be described verbally, like a hilarious family vacation or the storyline of your favorite TV series, rather than skill-based memories like riding a bike or changing a tire.

3 / It cleanses your brain.

It turns out that deep sleep is also like a self-cleaning oven. Sounds strange, doesn't it? But during this phase of sleep, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) removes toxins and wastes collected during the day out of the body, and keeps the brain clear and healthy. This same process of flushing the brain targets and also removes a toxic protein called beta-amyloid. This protein is known to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Keeping your brain clean is one more thing on the list of benefits of deep sleep.

4 / Deep sleep promotes growth, but decreases as you get older.

Another essential function of deep sleep? The release of hormones. Throughout our lives, deep sleep helps release hormones that are important for our development, growth, and glucose metabolism. So it makes sense that a lack of deep sleep is often linked to chronic conditions like obesity and high blood pressure, as two additional studies show.

It goes without saying that deep sleep tends to decrease with age. This is because your body is no longer growing and tends to release less hormones. But, according to a 2013 study on sleep and aging, along with stress, use of psychotropic drugs and other degenerative neurological diseases, the deep sleep stage can also be more difficult to achieve. 

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