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We’re actually developing a method based on this. It’s called direct-current brain stimulation. You insert a small amount of voltage into the brain, so small you typically don’t feel it, but it has a measurable impact. Now if you apply this stimulation during sleep in young, healthy adults, as if you’re sort of singing in time with those deep-sleep brainwaves, not only can we amplify the size of those deep-sleep brainwaves, but in doing so, we can almost double the amount of memory benefit that you get from sleep.
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And then finally, in taking a step back, then, what is the mission-critical statement here? Well, I think it may be this: sleep, unfortunately, is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a nonnegotiable biological necessity. It is your life-support system, and it is Mother Nature’s bes...
What we’ve discovered over the past 10 or so years is that you need sleep after learning to essentially hit the save button on those new memories so that you don’t forget. But recently, we discovered that you also need sleep before learning to actually prepare your brain, almost...
In this experiment, participants wouldn’t have their sleep deprived for an entire night, they’d simply have their sleep restricted to 4 hours for 1 single night, and then we were going to look to see what’s the percent reduction in immune cell activity that they suffer. And it’s not small; it’s n...
There is simply no aspect of your wellness that can retreat at the sign of sleep deprivation and get away unscathed. It’s rather like a broken water pipe in your home. Sleep loss will leak down into every nook and cranny of your physiology, even tampering with the very DNA nucleic alphabe...
But as a deeper dive, I want to focus on this: sleep loss and your immune system. So, within the immune system there are these cells called natural killer cells, and you can think of them almost like the secret service agents of your immune system. They are very good at identifyi...
Well, beyond avoiding the damaging and harmful impact of alcohol and caffeine on sleep, and if you’re struggling with sleep at night, avoiding naps during the day, I have two pieces of advice for you. The first is regularity. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the sam...
We decided to test the hypothesis that pulling the all-nighter was a good idea. So we took a group of individuals and we assigned them to 1 of 2 experimental groups: a sleep group and a sleep deprivation group. The sleep group, would get a full 8 hours of slumber, but the deprivation group, would...
But sleep is just as essential for your body. I can tell you about sleep loss and your cardiovascular system, and that all it takes is 1 hour. Because there is a global experiment performed on 1.6 billion people across 70 countries twice a year, and it’s called daylight saving time.
It’s a silent sleep loss epidemic, and it’s fast becoming one of the greatest public health challenges that we face in the 21st century. I believe it is now time for us to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep, and without embarrassment or that unfortunate stigma of laziness. And in ...
So you may have heard of that old maxim that you can sleep when you’re dead. Well, it is mortally unwise advice. We know this from epidemiological studies across millions of individuals. There’s a simple truth: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Short sleep predicts all-cause ...
The next day, we placed participants from both groups inside an MRI scanner and we asked them to learn a whole list of new facts, as we were taking snapshots of brain activity. And then we tested them to see how effective that learning had been. And what we found is a quite significant - ...
The evidence suggests that the disruption of deep sleep is an underappreciated factor that is contributing to cognitive decline or memory decline in aging and in Alzheimer’s disease as well. This is remarkably depressing news. But there’s a potential silver lining here. Unlike ma...
In this study, they took a group of healthy adults and they limited them to 6 hours of sleep a night, for one week, and then they measured the change in their gene activity profile relative to when those same individuals were getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night. And there were 2 criti...
One area that we’ve moved this work out into, clinically, is the context of aging and dementia. Because it’s of course no secret that, as we get older, our learning and memory abilities begin to fade and decline. But what we’ve also discovered is that a physiological signature of aging is...
We’ve gone on to discover what goes wrong within your brain to produce these types of learning disabilities. There’s a structure that sits on the left and the right side of your brain, called the hippocampus. You can think of the hippocampus almost like the informational inbox of your bra...
Those genes that were switched off by a lack of sleep were genes associated with your immune system, so once again, you can see that immune deficiency. In contrast, those genes that were actually upregulated or increased by way of a lack of sleep, were genes associated with the promotion of tumor...
Currently, that list of forms of cancer associated with short sleep duration includes cancer of the bowel, cancer of the prostate and cancer of the breast. In fact, the link between a lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of n...
When we looked at the hippocampus in those people who’d had a full night of sleep, we saw lots of healthy learning-related activity. Yet in those people who were sleep-deprived, we actually couldn’t find any significant signal whatsoever.
So it’s almost as though sleep deprivation ...
The second piece of advice is “keep it cool”. Your body needs to drop its core temperature by about two to three degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep and then to stay asleep, and it’s the reason you will always find it easier to fall asleep in a room that's too cold than too hot. So aim f...
It’s the combined quality of these deep-sleep brainwaves that acts like a file-transfer mechanism at night, shifting memories from a short-term vulnerable reservoir to a more permanent long-term storage site within the brain, and therefore protecting them, making them safe. And i...
What is it about the physiological quality of your sleep when you do get it that restores and enhances your memory and learning ability each and every day? By placing electrodes all over the head, what we’ve discovered is that there are big, powerful brainwaves that happen during the very...
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
Sleep is our life-support system and Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality, says sleep scientist Matt Walker. In this deep dive into the science of slumber, Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when we get sleep - and the alarmingly bad things that happen when we don’t, for both our brain and our body. Spoiler alert: Sleep like your life depends on it.
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