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Sleep Is Irreplaceable for the Recovery of the Brain

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Summary: Resting is no substitute for deep sleep when it comes to keeping up with the intensive performance demands of daily life.

Source: University of Freiburg

Sleep is ubiquitous in animals and humans and vital for healthy functioning. Thus, sleep after training improves performance on various tasks in comparison to equal periods of active wakefulness.

However, it has been unclear so far whether this is due to an active refinement of neural connections or merely due to the absence of novel input during sleep. Now researchers at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg have succeeded in showing that sleep is more than rest for improving performance.

The findings, which were published in the journal SLEEP on January 6, 2021, provide important information for planning periods of intensive learning or training.

“Sleep is irreplaceable for the recovery of the brain. It cannot be replaced by periods of rest for improved performance. The state of the brain during sleep is unique,” says Prof. Dr. Christoph Nissen, who headed the study as research group leader at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg and is now working at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

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