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New UCLA Research Reveals Why Sleep Is Important – NBC Los Angeles

A dramatic change in sleep purpose occurs when children are around 2 1/2 years old – a time when the primary purpose of sleep shifts from building the brain to maintaining and repairing the brain, according to a study published Friday by researchers at UCLA.

“Don’t wake babies during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. While they sleep, important work is being done in their brain, ”said Gina Poe, lead study author and UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology who has been researching sleep for more than three decades.

Newborns spend about 50% of their sleep time in REM sleep, with this number dropping to about 25% by the age of 10 and decreasing further with age. According to researchers, adults older than 50 years sleep in REM for about 1

5% of their time.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that the sharp transition in sleep function “is remarkable, as this shift likely signals a profound shift in sleep function and the behavior of sleep processes.”

Researchers, using data from more than 60 sleep studies in humans and other mammals, found that all species experienced dramatic decreases in REM sleep as they reached the human developmental equivalent of about 2 1/2 years.

The transition at around 2 1/2 years of age corresponds to changes in brain development, according to researchers, who say that sleep then helps repair a certain amount of neurological damage that was sustained during waking hours and keeps the brain in the To relieve essentially.

“Sleep is just as important as food,” said Poe. “And it’s wonderful how well sleep meets the needs of our nervous system. Everyone from jellyfish to birds to whales sleeps. Our brains don’t rest while we sleep. “

Poe noted that chronic lack of sleep is likely to contribute to long-term health problems like dementia and other cognitive disorders, and urged people to go to bed when they feel tired.

Almost all brain repair occurs during sleep, according to the study’s lead author, Van Savage, UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and computational medicine.

“I was shocked at how big the change is in a short space of time and that this change happens when we’re that young,” said Savage. “It’s a transition that is analogous to when water freezes into ice.”

The study was co-authored by Junyu Cao, who conducted research in Savage’s laboratory and is now an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Alexander Herman, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; and Geoffrey West, a physicist who is the Shannan Distinguished Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.

The National Science Foundation and the Eugene and Clare Thaw Charitable Trust helped fund the study.

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