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February 26, 2018 Monday 12:49:47 PM IST

We sleep to be able to learn further

Parent Interventions

26th February, 2018: According to a study published in Science, by the psychiatrists of the Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness, USA, the sleep is a perchance to forget, to create room for more growth of synapses and be able to learn more. Sleep is the price we pay to keep brains, that become plastic by what is already learnt, enough elastic to keep that are plastic and able to keep learning new things. This hypothesis is called “synaptic homeostasis hypothesis” (SHY), which was proposed by the Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness back in 2003. Careful evaluation of the electron-microscope pictures from inside the brains of mice proves this hypothesis.

It is found that our synapses, the junctions between nerve cells, grow strong and large during the stimulation of daytime, then shrink by nearly 20 percent while we sleep. The shrinking of the synapses is found to create room for more growth and learning the next day. In the experiment with mice researchers found that a few hours of sleep led to an 18% decrease in the size of the synapses. Thus it is finally established that the purpose of sleep is to scale back synapses, so as to be able to learn further.

Researchers are on their way to finally understand the role sleep plays in entire brain development.