US neurologists have made some remarkable discoveries about the human brain’s sleep patterns. Scientists think that they have identified the area of the brain that ends our light sleep, known as non-rapid eye movement pattern, and that consequently wakes us up.
The team of specialists involved in the study found a sensory circuit placed between two separate brain areas, named thalamus and hypothalamus, and examined its fast reaction to mild impulses in lab rats. Sleeping is a vital aspect of the human life, and as studies have shown, it is extremely complicated.
Our brain produces two kinds of sleep patterns and the majority of human sleeping time is in the slow wave sleep, recognizable by its large, slower brain waves and deep breathing that could help our mind to recover after a stressful day.
Once we get to sleep, the brain is not fully resting; instead, a sequence of interconnected organic processes help it to relax and offer us the much need peace of mind during night time. Stimulating the brain tissues with the optogenetics method activated quick awakenings from lighter sleep sessions, while their more focused effort triggered a prolonged wakefulness.
This finding is extremely interesting, doctors say, since it may lead them to new methods meant to help patients restore awareness from vegetative and minimally aware conditions. Furthermore, it may be applied to help sufferers of insomnia and to better comprehend what is stopping these people from sleeping properly during the night.
Electrical nerve activation is not a new concept, but before these innovative experiments, it was applied without a complete knowledge of the various brain areas and their impact on our sleeping cycle. With this additional information, more deft therapies may soon be created by experts in this complex domain.
Even if they have made essential advancements now, it could take quite a while before newer therapeutic methods will be developed based on these initial results, according to the scientists.
Image source: BBC