Posts tagged: sleep quality

Researchers Discover How To Enhance Memories During Sleep – By Triggering Brain Waves

Researchers Discover How To Enhance Memories During Sleep - By Triggering Brain Waves
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If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, this Korean study might change your mind. Typically, good quality sleep can boost your overall wellness: better immunity, mood, and energy levels are all part of the package. Researchers from South Korea’s Institute for Basic Science found that because sleep plays a very large role in the body’s natural rebooting processes, you can actually enhance your memory during sleep! In the 2017 research conducted at the Institute’s Center for Cognition and Sociality=, researchers concluded that triggering specific brain waves led to better memory consolidation or memory retention.

Non-Rapid Eye Movement And Slow Wave Sleep

Lead researcher Charles-Francois Latchoumane and his team turned their attention to very specific part of the sleep cycle in the study: the last part of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, before the body falls into “deep sleep” or REM (rapid eye movement). This part is also called slow-wave sleep (SWS). The researchers built their study on the assumption that this part of sleep is essential in maintaining information and memory processing in the brain.

Using three groups of mice, two of which were experimental groups and one a control group, the researchers instilled fear memory by administering a mild electrical shock to the mice after a tone during the beginning of the study. While the mice slept, their brains were stimulated during the SWS phase. The first experimental group received slow, in-sync oscillations while the second experimental group received out-of-sync oscillations. These stimulations were done using a process called optogenetics, where light is used to stimulate the spindles and ripples in the brain.

The day after the treatment was applied, the researchers discovered that 40 percent of the mice in the first experimental group froze in fear after hearing the tone (the tone they heard before the electrical shock was given). This number decreased to 20 percent in the second experimental and the control groups. The scientists determined from these results that manipulation of brain waves in very specific moments during sleep can enhance memory, and that this sort of treatment could also work the other way around by reducing memory as well.

However, Dr. Shin, a member of Latchoumane’s research team, also warns that the treatment applied to the mice involved in the study may not be used on humans yet. Their team used optogenetics by implantation of an optic cable into the mice’s brain. Currently, this type of invasive procedure cannot be used on humans as it was used on the mice. Further research needs to be conducted in order to find what kind of technique can be safely used on humans, with the same effect the study observed.

Memory And Cognition

The brain is the body’s most complex organ. Weighing only three pounds, roughly two percent of our body weight, the brain is responsible for everything that goes on in the body. Breathing, eating, walking… you name it, the brain controls it. Of the many things the brain is responsible for, our cognitive abilities rank high on the list. Emotions and memory are likewise controlled the brain as well, and if we can “control” our brain or the way it functions, we can control a lot of aspects of our cognitive abilities as well. Latchoumane’s study suggests is that through certain procedures, human beings can no longer be limited by short attention span and memory. This can mean a lot for people affected by memory disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s, or even people affected by amnesia; of course, this is still a whole lot of conjecture and more research needs to be done before we can conduct the same experiment of humans but the results give us new hope on improving our, and our loved ones, cognitive wellbeing.


[1] Latchoumane, C., et. al. (2017). Thalamic Spindles Promote Memory Formation during Sleep through Triple Phase-Locking of Cortical, Thalamic, and Hippocampal Rhythms.…/

Studies In Recent Years Have Identified A Relationship Between Lack Of Sleep And Cancer Development

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Cancer is a one of the greatest public health challenges worldwide, with an alarming incidence rate of 21% in men and 18 % in women. Cancer occurs when normal cells of the body deviate from normal controlled growth to abnormal growth of cells.

Sleep plays an important role in overall human health and impacts nearly all systems of the body: It influences the brain, immune system, hormone regulation, and metabolism in the body. Sleep can affect normal cellular function by altering the cellular environment and affecting the signaling mechanism of cell growth.

Researchers have now concluded that different components of sleep such as sleep duration, sleep quality, circadian rhythm can be potential risk factors for cancer. A review that analyzed multiple studies has found that people who sleep less than 6 hours are at higher risk of developing cancer. [1] Short-term sleep is associated with an increased risk of developing colon polyps that can later become cancer. Sleep deprivation leads to ‘wear and tear’ of cells, leading to DNA damage which results in cancer.

Sleep quality was identified as a risk factor for breast cancer in a study that involved 4,000 women. [2] Another study has found that men who suffer from sleep interruptions on a regular basis are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer. [3]

Circadian rhythm often known as the body’s internal clock controls a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus which optimizes daily activity. Circadian disruption can lead to the development of cancer. Circadian signals control the normal functioning of the cell, including hormone production and immune function. Disruption is likely to influence genetic mutations and DNA damage. A review of multiple studies has found that circadian disruptions can be a potential risk for breast cancer. [4]

See also:

Top 100 Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer


[1] Cappuccio, F.P., et al., Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sleep, 2010. 33(5): p. 585-592.

[2] Soucise, A., et al., Sleep quality, duration, and breast cancer aggressiveness. Breast cancer research and treatment, 2017. 164(1): p. 169-178.

[3] Sigurdardottir, L.G., et al., Sleep disruption among older men and risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 2013. 22(5): p. 872-879.

[4] Samuelsson, L.B., et al., Sleep and circadian disruption and incident breast cancer risk: An evidence-based and theoretical review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2018. 84: p. 35-48.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

How Much Sleep Is Enough
Graphic: © Image source – Pixabay (PD).

Sleep is more than just a time when our body and mind shut down. It’s an active period of restoration, consolidation of memory, and strengthening. But what’s the risk of sacrificing a few hours every night to catch up on your favorite show or work late at night? Consider the following adverse effects of sleep deprivation:

⦁ Heart Disease and Stroke: According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, sleep duration is a significant predictor of cardiovascular outcomes. [1] Less than 7 hours of sleep every night increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

⦁ Risk of Early Death: A 2010 meta-analysis claimed that inadequate sleep is associated with early death. [2]

⦁ Diabetes: Sleep below and above the recommended duration increases the risk of diabetes. [3]

⦁ Decline in Cognitive Function: According to a recent study, not getting enough sleep over a prolonged period leads to “impaired reasoning, problem-solving, and communication skills.” [4]

Recommended Sleeping Hours by Age Group

Different age groups have different health and lifestyle requirements – and this, in turn, affects an individual’s sleep needs. Consider these general guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation: [5]

⦁ Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours

⦁ Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours

⦁ Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours

⦁ Pre-schoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours

⦁ School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours

⦁ Teenagers (14-17):  8-10 hours

⦁ Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours

⦁ Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours

⦁ Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

Final Remarks
To improve your health, it’s about time you start paying attention to your sleep patterns and make sleep a daily priority. You can even add sleep to your to-do list or your mandatory daily schedule. PS: Having “enough” sleep is not about being sleep deprived and compensating by logging many hours. Healthy sleep habits involve consistent routines to meet our sleep needs daily.

Please note that this content should never be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.


[1] Cappuccio, F. P. et al. 2011. Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies.

[2] Cappuccio, F. P. et al. 2010. Sleep Duration and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies

[3] Gottlieb, D. J. et al. 2005. Association of Sleep Time With Diabetes Mellitus and Impaired Glucose Tolerance

[4] Wild, C. J. et al. 2018. Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities

[5] Hirshkowitz, M. et al. 2015. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary

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How Much Sleep Is Enough
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