You’ve probably heard that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to be at their best. Children and teens need even more. Did you know that it’s not only the time, but the quality of the sleep that is important? You go through several stages of sleep, with deep sleep being the stage where brain waves are the slowest. Researchers are beginning to discover just how important this deep non-REM sleep is to your mental and overall health, especially as you age.

Deep Sleep Cleans the Brain

A March 2019 study published in the journal Science Advances found that the slowed brain and cardiopulmonary activity associated with deep non-REM sleep are perfect conditions for the glymphatic system — the brain’s process for removing waste — to perform effectively. Earlier studies had shown that the system works primarily while we sleep, but this latest study takes it further.

Quality of Sleep Linked to Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers know that the older we get, it becomes more difficult to achieve deep non-REM sleep, which according to this study means it becomes more difficult for the glymphatic system to do its job. This enforces the belief that there are links between aging, sleep deprivation, and a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The study shows promise that the brain’s glymphatic system can be improved by improving sleep, which means that sleep therapy or other methods to boost the quality of sleep could be useful for at-risk populations.

Drugs That Induce Deep Sleep May Help Reduce Cognitive Impairment After Anesthesia

The way the test was conducted also sheds light on the use of anesthetics in clinical situations. Mice that were given anesthetics that did not slow brain activity saw reduced glymphatic activity. Cognitive impairment after anesthesia in older patients is a major problem in surgery, and this study seems to show that using classes of drugs that induce deep sleep could combat it.

Other Benefits of Deep Sleep

Deep sleep aids in the growth and development of the body. Deep sleep is also important for the consolidation of new information into short- and long-term memory and for overall learning. Deep sleep gives the brain time to restore itself from its daily activeness and restores energy, encourages cell regeneration, and strengthens the immune system.

Your overall health depends on the amount and type of sleep you get each night. The lack of deep sleep has been linked to Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.

Schedule a Sleep Evaluation Today

To properly diagnose whether you have sleep issues, it may be necessary to conduct a polysomnogram, a sleep study done in a lab, or a home sleep test. If you are waking up exhausted, call to schedule an appointment with us today for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. We are pleased to serve patients in Granger, Middlebury, Warsaw, and Plymouth, Indiana, and surrounding area.