Home / News / Look after your brain by getting a good night’s sleep

Look after your brain by getting a good night’s sleep

Sleeping woman

Forget beauty sleep, scientists have discovered yet another reason why we should all get a good night’s sleep – because it restores a type of brain cell. Sleep aids the production of cells that make myelin, the insulating material that protects the brain’s circuitry. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re brain isn’t functioning as it should.

Toddler cannot get to sleep

Why we need to get enough sleep

The Wisconsin team said that results of their research, which was conducted on mice, will look at the part sleep plays in brain repair, growth and the disease MS.

Dr Chiara Cirelli and her team discovered that the rate of myelin making cells, called immature oligodendrocytes, doubled when the mice were sleeping. The increase was much more prominent during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. For years scientists have tried to get to the bottom of why we need to sleep to function. Obviously sleep is essential for our minds and bodies to rest but the biological processes that take place during sleep are only just coming to light.

Dr Cirelli said: “For a long time, sleep researchers focused on how the activity of nerve cells differs when animals are awake versus when they are asleep.

“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 research suggests that a lack of sleep could aggravate some of the symptoms of MS, a disease that damages myelin. MS causes the body’s immune system to attacks and destroy the myelin coating of nerves in the spinal cord and brain. Going forward, further research will be done to look at the affects of not sleeping and the symptoms of MS.

Making sure children get plenty of sleep is very important

Dr Cirelli is keen to look at whether a lack of sleep, particularly in adolescence, can have long term affects on the brain.

The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says that’s sleep is necessary for our nervous system to do its job. Deep sleep goes hand in hand with the release of the growth hormone in children and young adults. So it seems sleep is essential to growing up. You might like to remind your children of that when they don’t want to go to bed.




One Response to “Look after your brain by getting a good night’s sleep”

  1. Tracy Nixon

    I wish! I suffer from insomnia and must get on average 4-5 hours of sleep a night! I would love to find a cure – I feel nothing works!


About Dani Lee

About Dani Lee

Dani enjoys turning her hand to writing when she gets a chance. Dani works full time and has 2 children, Sophie, 7 and Harry, 15 months and if anyone knows what it is to be a working parent, she does!

View all posts by