First Half Sleep Essential as it Resets Brain for New Learning: Study Finds

First Half Sleep Essential as it Resets Brain for New Learning: Study Finds


Does hard work with sleepless nights really work? Recent research showed why sleep is necessary for learning capabilities and how effective is nap time. The first half of our sleep gives the rest of our brain synapse deserves.

Synaptic Homeostasis Hypothesis: Synapses are the spaces between our neurons through which communication happens. Homeostasis is the internal balance within our body.  According to this theory, sleep is crucial to maintain this balance, when synaptic numbers increase during the time a person is awake, sleep lowers this count; thus, creating space for synapses of new information to be formed.

Sleep pressure: Sleep pressure is simply the amount of urge we feel to sleep. The higher the awakening time, the higher the sleep pressure. That is, the feeling of fatigue that a person feels after a long day- it is the increased sleep pressure. With the increased amount of sleep pressure, synapse relaxation also increases. This is why the first half of sleep is much more active in reducing synaptic count in comparison with the latter half.

Is napping effective: There are different opinions with varied studies on the benefits of a nap. Here, nap proves to be ineffective. This is because sleep pressure is not enough for the synapses to relax. For example, a student preparing for her exams may feel more open to grasping information with a night sleep that is taken after a long day, instead of an hour of afternoon nap.

Sleeping difficulties: Sleep acts as the period of rest that our neurons and synapses deserve after taking a long day of information to give us a fresh morning the next day. While sleep and its pattern are core to our health, difficulties and disorders of sleep are commonly seen. Almost everyone has experienced sleep difficulty at one point or the other. For instance, difficulty in sleeping when there is a big event the next day. Sleep disorders are when these difficulties persist for a much longer duration of time, and adversely affect the functioning of daily life. Insomnia-One of the most well-known sleeping disorders, in which a person is not able to or feels difficulty than usual to have a good sleep. Similarly, sleep apnea is when a person forgets to take regular breaths while sleeping. Circadian rhythm  disorders occur when our the biological clock of our body is not regulated.

How to enjoy a good sleep? If a person is facing sleep difficulties, it is best to find the root cause and then intervene based on it. Causes of sleep disorders are varied. These can be result or a symptom of mental illness like depression and anxiety, lack of work-life balance, side effects of medicines or substance abuse or any other neural condition.

Seeking professional support, like therapeutic guidance can help to structurally deal with it in a much more efficient way. However, we can learn some general strategies that can come in handy when sleeping appears to be a big task.

Customized routine– There are often claims signifying what is the best time to sleep. But it varies widely from one individual to another. Job schedule and daily routine should be the major determining factor for maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.

Stress, a rival of sleep! – Stress often accompanies sleeping difficulties with it. While it is important to have better sleep in times of stress to give adequate breaks to our mind and body, stress itself comes as a turmoil to regular sleep. Not comprising on sleep, especially its duration if not quantity can be a goal for our good health. Long-term or chronic stress can contribute to the spawning of sleep as well as mental disorders.



Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018 Dec;43(12):758-763. PMID: 30559589; PMCID: PMC6281147.

Sleep’s First Half Crucial for Brain Reset

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