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Rebound Sleep Vital To Focus, Concentration

March 12, 2009

Sleep deprivation can cause distraction and forgetfulness, and a new investigation conducted on mice can help us understand why.

Dr. Robert W. Greene of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, along with other researchers, found an important molecular tool that controls the brain’s aptitude to mentally reimburse sleep deprivation.

They discovered that an adenosine receptor molecule is needed for sleep-deprived mice to receive the normal levels of slow-wave action in the brain after a night without enough sleep. It is the larger amount of slow-wave action in the catch up sleep that reinstates memory and attention proficiency, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Neuroscience.

When we do not get enough sleep, our bodies catch up by having a concentrated amount of slow-wave action the following night, Greene told Reuters. Slow-wave action happens in non-REM slumber, and occurs when large parts of the brain lead into a coordinated rhythm, called oscillation.

To look at why slow-wave action is vital, Greene investigated genetically engineered mice that were not capable of boosting slow-wave action. The animals did not have adenosine receptors, an important energy foundation for cells important for instigating slow-wave action.

The regular mice and the engineered mice executed the tests equally as good. The tests calculated a few aspects of brain function. Preventing the normal mice of a full amount of sleep did not influence the results of the tests. However, when the engineered mice were preventing from getting the correct amount of sleep, their task performance determining the “working” memory did not go very well.

“This memory is the kind of memory that you would use for example when you’re multi-tasking; you have to keep something in mind when you’re doing something else,” Greene told Reuters.

The results, Greene said, implies that concentrated slow-wave action is indispensable for renovating our capability to concentrate and focus.

“Eventually you’ll pay the piper if you don’t get your slow-wave activity,” he said.

Those who take sleeping pills should be warned too, Greene said, because the drugs affect slow-wave activity. “Even though you can get a long night’s sleep, it might not be as effective as it needs to be.”

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