Sleep ...

To sleep, perchance to remember – to learn and to heal!
“We’ve known for a long time that sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. If you don’t sleep well you won’t learn well." – (Gan, et. al. 2014)

We now know 'learning' (Scott, 2016) is processed into memory
at the same stage of sleep as healing and growth – but deeper:
(1) the process of 'remembering' induces deeper sleep,
therefore, 'learning' promotes healing and growth.
(2) physical healing is dependent on the quality of nutrients absorption,
(3) depression is recognised as a symptom of pH imbalance (acidic diet aka low oxygen).
And, this Danish sleep study targets depression as a cause of inability to sleep.

There are four categories of brain wave frequencies:
Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta.
"...knowledge of brainwave states enhances a person's ability to make use
of the specialized characteristics of those states:
these include being mentally productive across a wide range of activities,
such as being intensely focused, relaxed, creative and in restful sleep."

Ned Herrmann
, Scientific American Health Review

What happens during sleep?

Lifestyle and HD, (Stanford University)
...scientists have found that during REM sleep, brain waves are similar to those observed when humans are awake. This raises the interesting question: if neuronal activity is so similar in periods of both REM sleep and wakefulness, what accounts for the drastic differences between these two states? It has been suggested that a small number of neurons are responsible for differentiating between REM sleep and waking. >>> more

Here's Why You Can't 'Cheat The System' When It Comes To Sleep
A good night's rest actually makes you stronger.

Thirty years ago, we thought we had a lot of things figured out -- just look at '80s fashion, ... but in retrospect, we certainly didn't know it all. One pretty terrible mistake? Our collective bedtime philosophy was "sleep is for the weak." Now we know that getting too little rest doesn't do us any favors. Research continually shows "cheating the system" by skipping sleep in order to have more hours in the day is detrimental to our health.

hort video interview featuring Associate Professor Scott, NYU Sleep Institute.

What do Spindles do?
We don't know exactly but it plays some roll in memory consolidation. People who have learned a task show more sleep spindles than people who haven't learned.
Stage 1 - transition stage of sleep
Stage 2 - sudden bursts of activity, called Spindles start spiking into the theta waves. Best guess so far is that sleep spindles are a sign that your brain is downloading the new information it's taken in that day.
Stage 3 - Delta Waves - the deepest most restorative sleep you get all night.
"That is the stage of sleep where you bone muscle repair will occur."
It's also when the greatest amount of growth hormones are secreted, which may be why babies sleep so much.

REM - rapid eye movement - the dream stage of sleep. when alpha waves are crackling and large muscles are paralysed so you don't act out your dreams.

Brain wave activity looks similar to what it looks like when we are awake.
Back in the middle Ages - 500 to 1500, when people woke up during REM they thought their paralysis was caused by an invisible demon, called an Incubus, sitting on their chest. After scientists discovered REM in 1952, we finally understood that sleep isn't a passive act. Our brains are actually much more active than we ever could have imagined.

So, how do you prep your brain for it's nightly busy work?

Avoid caffeine late in the day. A compound called Adenosine builds up inside your brain all day long and tells your brain you're getting sleepy. Caffeine blocks Adenosine receptors in your brain and the message can't get through making it harder to fall asleep. Another thing you can do - sleep in a cool room.

Thermal dumping - washing our face, changing our clothes, leaving a body-part out from under the covers, particularly our head: It's called Thermal dumping, and it tells your brain it's bed time. And finally, blue light. It sets your internal clock to dusk. While your body knows it's night, your brain thinks it's day. If you can't give up tech entirely, there are ways to hack your gadgets to give off orange light instead
. >>> more

sleep cycles
Graph Source: Sleep, Nov. 1, 2004, pp.1255-73

Sleep Is Critical for Brain Detoxification
Sleep is deeply interconnected with your health in a myriad of ways. For example, previous research has found that sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness. Recent research shows that your brain has a unique waste management system, similar to the lymphatic system in your body. This system, dubbed the glymphatic system, is activated during sleep.

By pumping cerebral spinal fluid through your brain’s tissues, the glymphatic system flushes the waste from your brain back into your body’s circulatory system and into your liver, where it’s ultimately eliminated.

During sleep, your brain cells also shrink by about 60 percent, which allows for more efficient waste removal. Amyloid-beta, for example —proteins that form the notorious plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients—is removed in significantly greater quantities during sleep. >>> more

Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain
A study by University of Rochester Scientists in the journal Science reveals that the brain's unique method of waste removal -- dubbed the glymphatic system -- is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. Furthermore, the researchers found that during sleep the brain's cells reduce in size, allowing waste to be removed more effectively. This revelation could transform scientists' understanding of the biological purpose of sleep and point to new ways to treat neurological disorders.

Why Broken Sleep
is a golden time for creativity!
People once woke up halfway through the night
to think, write or make love.
What have we lost by sleeping straight through?
In the dead of night, drowsy brains can conjure up new ideas from the debris of dreams and apply them to our creative pursuits.
>>> more

Sleep Health A-Z
Compiled by New York University Sleep Institute

Believing that you received more sleep than you did is enough to give your brain some of the positive effects of sleep:"How to put your mind to sleep" and 'associate positivity' with sleeping. >>> more

(Or were too tired to think about) National Sleep Research Project, Australia

Health Watch

Harvard School of Medicine suggests six reasons to get enough sleep: 
William F. Dougherty, PsyD.

The Way We're Working Isn't Working:
The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance

By Tony Schwartz
Sleep is so vital to success in everything we do, Schwartz titles his chapter about it "Sleep or Die." In it, he cites the role lack of sleep played in numerous high-profile disasters... >>> more

Coffee Naps!
Why do they Work?
Several scientific studies back up the power of the coffee nap. Why does it work? A power nap helps to rid the brain of adenosine, the thing that makes us drowsy. Caffeine works because it works its way into the receptors where adenosine goes, thereby blocking it and keeping you from feeling drowsy.

Since it takes about 20 minutes for the effects of caffeine to kick in, when you lie down and let yourself relax, you start to get rid of the adenosine naturally, and by the time your alarm goes off, the caffeine is now kicking in and has less adenosine to compete with, making for one super perky afternoon.
>>> more

Sleep is a complicated biological nightmare for scientists.
Rare Genetic Mutation Lets Some People Function with Less Sleep:Scientific American

Two studies (Gan et. al. 2014, Euston and Steenland 2014) found that sleep after motor learning led to changes in the brain that helped consolidate motor learning and that the majority of the changes in the brain that promote learning and memory were laid down during deep sleep (non REM sleep).

“We’ve known for a long time that sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. If you don’t sleep well you won’t learn well." – (Gan et. al. 2014)

“When mice learned motor tasks, small protuberances—or “spines”—formed on some of the dendritic branches of specific brain neurons. These spines represent the physical correlate of a memory. But the neurons grew and retained these spines better when the mice slept after learning the task. Neurons that fired during learning fired again during subsequent slow-wave sleep, allowing the mice to conserve the newly formed spines—and memories.”(Euston and Steenland, 2014)

Tips for Sleeping Better

Rare Gene Mutation Allows Some People to Thrive on Minimal Sleep

  • An estimated 40 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived. Many get less than five hours of sleep per night. Most adults need eight hours of sleep per night for optimal health and well-being.
  • People with advanced phase sleep syndrome — a genetic mutation — are fully rested after as little as four to six hours of sleep. However, far less than 1 percent of short sleepers actually have this genetic mutation.
  • The DEC2 gene is involved in circadian clock regulation and appears to induce more efficient sleep with more intense REM states, thereby allowing people with this mutation to thrive on very little sleep. >>> more


How do our genes influence our sleep patterns?
How are digital devices changing sleep habits?

Dr. Ying-Hui Fu discusses these questions and more in her talk at TEDxThacherSchool.

Dr. Fu has studied the genetics and biology of neurodegenerative diseases for many years and most recently, has focused her work on human sleep behavior. Despite the fact that sleep is an essential component of the human experience occupying about one third of our lives, little is known about what sleep is and how it’s regulated. It is clear that chronic disruption of sleep leads to increased risks of not only motor vehicle accidents, but also many diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes, autoimmune disorders, neurodegeneration, and psychiatric diseases. She and her collaborators reported the first genes and mutations that cause people to be extreme morning larks (lifelong tendency to go to sleep and to wake up very early). Her research team also reported the first families and gene/mutation causing people to be natural short sleepers, with a life-long requirement of only 4-6 hours of sleep per night to feel good and perform at a high level.

For more information about each brainwave frequency, and the corresponding benefits of stimulation at that frequency, check out this infographic series.
These images contain an in-depth overview of some of the most significant,
peer-reviewed research into the benefits of brainwave entrainment.
See more study graphs at the Source: Brainwave - Infographics

Sleep research - the power nap and creative thinking
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, looked at the benefits of napping.
And they also suggest that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem-solving.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: ABC-Radio National, The Science Show, Australia
This transcript was typed from a recording of the program. The ABC cannot guarantee its complete accuracy because of the possibility of mishearing and occasional difficulty in identifying speakers.

Norman Swan: Sleep, if not a third of our lives as we're constantly exhorted to make it, is still a fair chunk of our time on this earth. Yet why we sleep and what the different phases of sleep actually mean are still a bit of a mystery.

Sleep proponents promise all sorts of things from refreshment to better memory and thinking performance to problem solving. Research at the University of California, San Diego has found that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is associated with better creative thinking. They've been studying REM sleep by engineering napping.

Sara Mednick is in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

Sara Mednick: The background to this study was that we realised that there were many creative people who said that they experienced insight into problems that they are having from dreams and dreams obviously occur during REM sleep. The way that we study sleep is through naps.

There are three major stages of sleep, stage two sleep, which is very light sleep, which has been shown to be improving alertness and motor memory and then there's slow wave sleep, which is a deeper sleep, which is that period between, say, 30 and 60 minutes of a full sleep. Or, let me just say a full sleep is what occurs over 90 minutes and you're going to go through three stages of sleep in those 90 minutes.

The first half an hour or first 20 minutes, say, is what's called stage two sleep, and stage two is the power nap, it's really good for alertness and motor performance; and then past the 30 minutes mark you go into a very deep form of sleep called slow wave sleep. Your brain synchronises to a very slow rhythm, your body temperature decreases dramatically, and your blood-flow in your brain gets very slow.

So, all in all, you're kind of in a zombie state and your brain is in a dampened brain state, so to speak. This lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

Norman Swan: And is that a form of sleep where you're paralysed, effectively?

Sara Mednick: No, that's during REM sleep. So the next 60 to 90 minutes of your 90 minute sleep cycle is where you have REM sleep and REM sleep is where you have paralysis of your body, but you also have very vivid dreams, very fanciful dreams, and you also have these rapid eye movements, and those are the signatures of REM sleep. But your brain is also highly, highly active. It's almost sometimes more active than waking, in fact.

So the way that we do studies is that we manipulate this duration of a sleep cycle by allowing people to only sleep for certain amounts during a nap. So we give them, say, 60-minute naps versus 90-minute naps, and in those 60-minute naps they are not going to have much REM sleep, but in the 90-minute naps they'll have a lot of REM sleep.

So when you want to look for a task such as a creativity task and you think, well REM sleep should be involved with creativity, you should be able to show that by having naps that don't have REM sleep not show creative enhancement, and naps that do show REM sleep having creative enhancement.

Norman Swan: So essentially you become your own control, because this is the kind of sleep that you have that's the control state.

Sara Mednick: Exactly and so the way we did the study is that we had people doing a creativity task in the morning and then a creativity task in the evening.

Norman Swan: What was the task?

Sara Mednick: The task was called the remote associate's test, if I give you three words — falling, dust and light, can you think of a word that goes with all three of these words.

Norman Swan: Falling, dust and light -- it's hard.

Sara Mednick: Yes, so you want to combine a word that you can actually combine with all three of those words. So, star might be a word -- so falling star, stardust and starlight. These are all words that you can't really combine themselves but there's one word that you can link all three of those words with.

Norman Swan: Of course you can get blocked because you're thinking about it the wrong way.

Sara Mednick: Exactly and you can go for your most obvious association which might be falling rock or something like that, and then you will miss this more remote association which is falling star and the more remote is the one that usually will also go with the other words as well. We're defining creativity as your ability to take disparate ideas and somehow link them together in new and useful ways, something that actually makes sense.

So we have this task where we give people a whole long list of these three word items, and they always have to find this fourth word that goes with these three items. We give them this test in the morning, and we give them the test in the afternoon, and we looked to see if you have no nap, and the no nap condition is people actually sitting very quietly with their eyes closed for 90 minutes with EEG electrodes on their head making sure they don't go to sleep, so they just sit there very quietly.

Norman Swan: So, what, you're going to electrocute them if they fall asleep?

Sara Mednick: No, wouldn't dare...and the other group is the group that has only non REM sleep, so they have stage two, the slow wave sleep, and then the other group has all three stages including REM sleep. And we looked to see what happens to their brain performance or their creativity performance after these different naps. What we found is that the naps with REM sleep showed 40% improvement over the other groups in creativity. This is the first study to really link REM sleep with creativity but also it really shows the power of napping.

Norman Swan: And what's going on in the brain, were you checking anything in the brain while this was happening?

Sara Mednick:
We haven't actually done that yet but the idea is that during REM sleep your brain is highly active, but an area of the brain called the hippocampus is actually quite shutdown and the hippocampus is the area of the brain that helps you remember things. When you are in REM sleep if you don't have the hippocampus telling the associative network, which is in the neocortex, this area of the brain that has all of your different associations and all of your different experiences in your brain lodged in this large kind of associative network is the idea.

Norman Swan: Just to explain, '1996' doesn't reside in one spot in your brain it's just there's these huge networks of millions and millions of nerve cells which create '1996' rather than it being in one spot and that's what you're saying with its associative network and then it can reform and it's '1997'.

Sara Mednick: Exactly, so what happens when you go into REM sleep is that this associate network is highly, highly active, but this area of the brain, which is telling you what were your real memories from your past, the hippocampus, is quite dampened. So it's not telling the neocortex how to associate this huge network of ideas that you have in your brain.

Norman Swan: So in a sense you're not rooted in reality?

Sara Mednick: You are very much not rooted in reality. You're free associating. Your brain is in a fairly loose associative state and that allows you to make combinations, new combinations between these things that have never been associated before and that's what we're imagining is what's happening during REM sleep to allow you to have these new creative associations.

Norman Swan:
Did it make any difference whether they remembered the dream that they had?

Sara Mednick: We didn't ask them about dreaming, we're not sure whether this is a dream effect or if it's just a REM effect.

Norman Swan: Because you mentioned earlier that creative people said well ‘I had a dream’ and there are famous ones like, I think, the double helix was a dream and there's another one —I think the benzene ring —where the snake's swallowing its tail, so there are people who do talk about the dreams that they remember. So, you wonder whether that ability to remember your dreams is linked to this.

Sara Mednick: We thought about that afterwards. REM sleep is when you have these dreams and so it's likely that if we were going to find something it would be during REM sleep. But we haven't actually linked the finding of REM sleep to these dreams.

Norman Swan: The other function that people have suggested for REM sleep, what you're suggesting is one function— that problem solving may be related to it, but people talk about REM sleep as being the housekeeping time of night. Do you have any evidence for that?

Sara Mednick: It's funny, I actually consider slow-wave sleep to be a more housekeeping time, only because I have research that looks at the difference between slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, and what we find for slow-wave sleep is that it's this period of time where you're cleaning the desktop.

I have a task that I have people doing throughout the day and it's a very simple visual task. It's called the texture discrimination task, and they're just having to recognise some oriented lines that are flashed very briefly on a screen. And what we find is that if we test people across the day at multiple times their performance deteriorates across the day, they cannot maintain their optimal level of performance.

If we give them a nap with slow-wave sleep they do not show this deterioration, they don't show any learning or enhancement of performance, but they basically show that whatever excess information was in the brain, whatever was interfering with their ability to remain at their top level of performance is cleared away by slow-wave sleep.

And it may be that it's this dampened state of the brain so that new functions do not interfere with whatever was previously being consolidated, or it may be that the resources that you need in order to produce performance at some optimal level may be enhanced during slow wave sleep. It's not clear what's going on but what we find is that slow-wave sleep does seem to be the housekeeping period of sleep and then what follows is REM sleep which is this period where you see what's left after you've done all your housekeeping and then you put that information together in new and interesting combinations.

Norman Swan:
And what's the relationship with memory and sleep?

Sara Mednick: Well, that is obviously what I am studying for the rest of my life, so it's a big question, but it appears to be that not all memories require sleep. Obviously, I can tell you my name and you'll remember it ten minutes later.

Norman Swan: Maybe.

Sara Mednick: Maybe — it depends on how well you slept the night before obviously. But there do seem to be some interesting links between sleep and memory and it may be that the more complex memory visual system that needs to combine with auditory systems, and you have ideas that have never been put together, need to be put together. The more complex these ideas are the more you might need a process like sleep to come and intervene. But if I just give you one piece of information to remember, like my name, it's actually pretty easy to hold onto that information. So the consolidation part is where we think that sleep may really be helping us learn.

Norman Swan: So I presume that you haven't studied the siesta per se, although you created it in the lab?

Sara Mednick: The idea to study napping and siesta came from people's stories about how they loved to sleep in the daytime and how napping made them feel so much better. When I looked at the literature on nocturnal sleep and memory, there was no way that we could defend why a nap would work, because it seemed like you needed to have six to eight hours of nocturnal sleep to show any kinds of memory improvements. And people who took naps woke up from a nap feeling so much better than when they went to sleep.

So that was sort of the impetus to say, well what's going on with these naps that make people feel so good? And then, we were really surprised, when we started doing this research to show that in the tasks that we were looking at. So a visual memory task was what we started with, the same task I just described to you, that people show the same level of improvement from a nap as they did from a full night of sleep. And this nap was one that was right in the middle of the day and it was at this period of time when you're going to have equal amounts of slow wave sleep and REM sleep. And so what we were thinking and what we believe now is that this nap in the middle of the day, which is this natural time for people to have a siesta, it's a time when most people showed decreases in body temperature, decreases in cognition, that it might be a very natural time for us to be sleeping.

Norman Swan: Is there any illumination of insomnia here, because the interesting thing about true insomnia, my understanding, is there's very little reduction in performance. People get wired and they actually perform, it's very hard in laboratory testing to find reductions in performance of people who are not sleeping well.

Sara Mednick: A lot of the time, people with insomnia —their sleep is actually quite similar; there's not that much difference between people with insomnia and people without insomnia.

Norman Swan: It's a perception problem. You're perceiving your sleep to be less?

Sara Mednick: In some cases it looks as though when they're awake at night they're more alert than people who are not saying that they have insomnia. And what happens is that you remember the fact that you have been awake more. In some ways it's interesting because if you look at the hypnotics that help people with insomnia, benzodiazepines, Ambien, these do not actually alter sleep that much. But what they do is that they don't allow you to remember what happened when you were on those drugs and so they wake up and they say 'well I must have slept well', so there is a large psychological component to the insomnia issues.

Norman Swan: And now, you're trying to manipulate, rather than just rely on people having a nap, whether or not you can actually dial up a certain sleep stage?

Sara Mednick: That's right. The idea is that if the current literature is telling us that specific sleep stages will lead to specific kinds of memory improvements if we can pharmacologically enhance those sleep stages, the question that we're asking now in my lab is, can we then see these specific memory enhancements as well that go along with these pharmacological enhancements.

Norman Swan: What medications dial-up certain stages of sleep?

Sara Mednick: The ones that we're looking at now are Ambien, because that is supposed to slightly enhance stage two sleep, but we're having a hard time actually showing that. And the other one is sodium oxybate, which enhances slow-wave sleep. And so, what we're finding then, is that if we can make these naps that have specifically stage two enhancement, slow-wave sleep enhancement and REM enhancement, should we then show these specific enhancements in say stage two sleep would enhance motor memory, slow-wave sleep would enhance a declared verbal memory and REM enhancement may enhance creativity or perceptual learning.

Norman Swan: Sara Mednick of the Department of Psychiatry from the University of California San Diego.

Cai DJ et al. REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks. PNAS, June 23, 2009;106;25: 10130-10134

Dr Sara Mednick Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, USA

Norman Swan
Brigitte Seega


Awake or Asleep: What is Consciousness?
"Withdrawing into Stillness — Sleep and Death" By Jim Belderis
Consciousness is not a function of the physical body.
It informs the body, just as it informs all of existence.
Consciousness is in fact a universal organizing principle.
At its most primal level, its energy has no frequency at all.
It is totally quiescent, unmanifest, with infinite potential.
In the manifested world, we are its emanations.
It is the ultimate source of all our faculties and energies —
and it is why we need to sleep.
>>> more

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