According to new research in The Journal of Neuroscience, scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison have discovered that sleep allows the body to reinforce the production of myelin, which provides insulation for the brain’s wiring. The researchers said their findings could lead to new insights into brain repair and multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease marked by chronic myelin damage. In the study, the researchers recorded genetic activity in myelin-producing oligodendrocyte cells from mice that either slept normally or were forced to stay awake. While the genes promoting myelin formation were observed to activate during sleep, the genes associated with cell death and cellular stress were switched on when the rodents stayed awake. In fact, the production rate of immature oligodendrocytes doubled as mice slept, researchers said.
The production increase was most significant during REM sleep, which is associated with dreaming. “For a long time, sleep researchers focused on how the activity of nerve cells differs when animals are awake versus when they are asleep,” said study author Dr. Chiara Cirelli, a psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Now it is clear that the way other supporting cells in the nervous system operate also changes significantly depending on whether the animal is asleep or awake.” The Michigan doctor also said her team would like to explore whether a lack of sleep, particularly during adolescence, has long-term consequences for the development and health of the brain.
Our conclusion is that we all need enough sleep for optimal brain functioning. " Our goal at Cool-jams Performance Sleep Products is to develop more and more products that can help consumers achieve a better night's rest since more and more scientific studies each day point out the connection between health and adequate sleep" explains Anita Mahaffey CEO at Cool-jams.