REM sleep is needed to regulate brain temperature

(ORDO NEWS) — A US researcher analyzed the sleep duration of warm-blooded animals, data on their body temperature, brain, lifestyle, and so on. He came to the conclusion that the REM phase is necessary for the thermoregulation of the brain of animals and humans, as well as their awakening.

Sleep is an integral part of the life of every person and a necessary condition for his health. Doctors believe that it is optimal for an adult to sleep for seven hours a day, and too little or too much sleep is harmful.

However, many people (10-30% of the population) regularly experience sleep disorders, including insomnia. No less important is the quality of sleep, including the duration of its individual phases (slow sleep, REM sleep, and so on) and their ratio.

To understand the fundamental meaning of sleep and its structure, Professor Jerome Siegel from the University of California at Los Angeles (USA) in a new article for Lancet Neurology drew attention to how different warm-blooded animals sleep and how this is related to their work. brain and lifestyle.

Curiously, the average duration of spontaneous daily sleep in mammals varies greatly – from two to 20 hours a day.

Evaluation of this parameter helps to better understand the physiological and other functions of sleep. It turned out that the duration of sleep does not correlate with brain size and cognitive capabilities. Rather, it is determined by their ecology, lifestyle, and how a particular animal eats.

Thus, the cyclic alternation of sleep and wakefulness turned out to be important precisely in the context of nutrition and optimal energy use.

It is noteworthy that the temperature of the animal’s brain drops sharply during the transition from wakefulness to the non-REM sleep phase – that is, as it falls asleep. At the same time, with the onset of the REM phase, the brain heats up again.

REM sleep , or the phase of rapid eye movements (REM, rapid eye movement), is indeed accompanied by rapid movements of the eyeballs. In this phase, the brain is most active – and it is in it that a person sees dreams.

As a result, it was concluded that the duration of REM sleep in warm-blooded animals is inversely proportional to the temperature of their body and brain.

So, having a body temperature of only 31 degrees, single passers (like the platypus and echidna) spend about 7.5 hours every day in the REM phase.

They are followed by marsupials and placental mammals with intermediate indicators (most representatives of this class, including humans). Finally, the shortest phase of REM sleep (only 0.7 hours per day) was noted in birds with the most “hot” blood – about 41 degrees.

It turns out that REM sleep plays a key role in the regulation of brain temperature and metabolic rate in this organ. It also helps the brain to go into a state of wakefulness.

The author of the study believes that during the slow phase of sleep, the temperature of the brain of animals should not fall below a certain critical value. Otherwise, they simply will not be able to quickly wake up in case of danger.

According to the scientist, his findings are quite applicable to human sleep. He emphasizes that the duration of REM sleep in Homo sapiens is average, the same can be said about the temperature of his brain. All this rather denies the role of REM sleep in the outstanding cognitive and emotional capabilities of our species.


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