June 29, 2010
Brain Energy Molecule Surges During Sleep

The energy molecule ATP surges in rat brains during the early stages of sleep.

Washington, DC In the initial stages of sleep, energy levels increase dramatically in brain regions found to be active during waking hours, according to new research in the June 30 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. These results suggest that a surge of cellular energy may replenish brain processes needed to function normally while awake.

A good night's rest has clear restorative benefits, but evidence of the actual biological processes that occur during sleep has been elusive. Radhika Basheer, PhD, and Robert McCarley, MD, of Boston V.A. Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School, proposed that brain energy levels are key to nightly restoration.

As I sit here fighting off sleep in order to finish this post I'm thinking I need to get to sleep in order to process all the events of the day and clean out all the clutter of information and events of the day. Perhaps ATP gets used heavily to do that while asleep. But the real meaning of this study is not clear. Does more ATP get synthesized or does less ATP get used?

"This research provides intriguing evidence that a sleep-dependent energy surge is needed to facilitate the restorative biosynthetic processes," said Robert Greene, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern, a sleep expert who was unaffiliated with the study. He observed that questions arise from the findings, such as the specific cause of the ATP surge. "The authors propose that the surge is related to decreases in brain cell activity during sleep, but it may be due to many other factors as well, including cellular signaling in the brain," he said.

Do you get enough sleep? If you don't you are probably missing out on the full restorative potential of sleep.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 June 29 11:02 PM  Brain Sleep


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