Author(s): MontesRodrguez CJ, RuedaOrozco PE, UrteagaUras E, AguilarRoblero R, ProsperoGarca O
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Abstract AIM: To analyse the data and concepts that have been produced in relation to one of the functions that have been suggested for sleep, namely, neuronal recovery. DEVELOPMENT: Sleep is a state of consciousness that is different to that of arousal. Mammals devote an important part of their lives to sleeping; for example, as humans, we sleep for a third of our lives, but why do we spend so much time in a state where we lose contact with our surroundings? What would happen if we didn't sleep? Total sleep deprivation alters cognitive processes such as memory or attention, and if this deprivation is prolonged, the individual deteriorates and dies. It has been suggested that sleep provides the organism with time to recover from the wear and tear that occurs during the waking state and, given that the first effects of the absence of sleep are seen to affect processes that are directly dependent on the brain, it has been claimed that its main purpose is to allow neuronal recovery. In this work we analyse some of the studies on the effects of total sleep deprivation in humans and rats, as well as the relationship between sleep and the neurotrophin system, which promotes neuronal survival and recovery. Finally, the latest theories about the function of sleep are discussed. CONCLUSIONS: Neuron recovery is not the ultimate purpose of sleep; rather it is to allow for maintenance and reorganisation of neuronal circuits, including new synapse formation, which enables existing neuronal networks to be modified by the effect of experience, and all this makes it possible for the brain to work properly and to adapt itself to the environment.
This article was published in Rev Neurol
and referenced in Pediatrics & Therapeutics