Deep Sleep And The Brain
Can deep sleep make you smarter?
One thing we all know about sleep is that it refreshes and clears the mind.
But while we rest, our brain is still hard at work. Consolidating memories, clearing waste and regenerating our whole body.
The trouble with modern life is that many of us are sleeping fewer hours than we need. This makes it difficult for our body and our mind to fully rejuvenate.
The downside of sleep deprivation
Actually, there IS no upside to sleep deprivation.
According to a sleep study published in the medical journal Sleep, sleeping fewer than six hours a night could be as bad as not sleeping at all.
Poor sleep can lead to us making risky, rash decisions. It also makes us more sensitive to our own pain and less empathetic to others.
One in three Australians suffer from ‘social jet-lag’ caused by a lack of sleep. Social jet-lag is characterised by a ‘bone-crushing’ tiredness. This can lead to mistakes on the job, while driving or operating machinery.
By working against our body’s need for more sleep, we interrupt our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our natural body clock. It tells our body when to sleep and when to wake.
Having poor quality sleep, or not enough sleep, puts us at risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.
What happens to the brain while you sleep?
Dan Gartenberg and his team of sleep technologists were interested in finding out how we could make our sleep more efficient. They studied what happens to the brain while we sleep.
They looked at the various stages of the sleep cycle, studying the brain activity during each stage. The three stages of sleep are:
- Light sleep – As we drift off to sleep, we can be easily awoken. We may experience abrupt body spasms (jerking) and a falling feeling.
- REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) - It’s during this second sleep phase that our brain waves are similar to when we’re awake.
- Deep sleep – This is the most restorative phase of sleep.
During their study, the researchers measured the brain waves of each participant by connecting electrodes to their scalp, chin and chest.
They found that the brain waves during deep sleep were quite different from the brain waves during the other two phases. They saw that the brain wave pattern, known as delta waves, occurred in long bursts.
These delta waves indicated that there was a lot of activity going on in the brain during this sleep phase. It’s during deep sleep that our brain consolidates memories and helps us learn from our daily interactions with the world.
Deep sleep is the key to ‘biological youth’. As we get older, we tend to sleep fewer hours and our brain loses some of its ability to learn and recover.
How can you improve the quality of your sleep?
According to all the evidence, you certainly need to get more of it. Sleeping seven to nine hours every night is essential to good health.
New technology might also come to the rescue!
Working with Dr Dimitri Gershenko, Dr Gartenburg and his team found that playing certain sounds during particular periods in the sleep cycle made people sleep more deeply.
These stimulating sounds affected the brain during deep sleep. They sound a bit like waves washing up on the shore.
These sounds have the same burst frequency as your brain waves during deep sleep. They help stimulate more of these regenerative waves.
By playing these sounds, the researchers believe that people can have a better quality of sleep. Their tests also indicate that these sounds help improve next-day memory performance.
Improve the quality of your sleep with an app
As a result of this research, Dr Gartenburg has created an app called Sonic Sleep A.I. The app is designed to be used during the night as you sleep. It uses stimulating sounds to make you sleep deeper and help you feel more rested and rejuvenated the next day.
So, if you have trouble sleeping and you’re not feeling refreshed when you wake-up in the morning, why not download this new app? It’s worth a try!