The Relation Between Sleep and Brain Plasticity



Published on

December 7, 2023

Updated on

December 7, 2023

Medically reviewed by



Sleep is the cornerstone of health – without it we are unable to function properly, let alone improve our health and our mental state. Neuroplasticity provides us with the ability to train our minds and bodies and to relearn certain functions, and when we get the right amount of sleep this process certainly runs much more smoothly. At one point or another, we’ve all felt the effects that come with sleep deprivation, and just how off and unlike ourselves it can make us feel. Getting ample sleep each night creates the foundation for us to take care of our whole being and to heal if necessary, and today we are going to discuss the direct relationship that exists between sleep and brain plasticity.

The Importance of Sleep

There are moments in everyone’s lives when we get swamped with daily obligations like school or work and start to neglect the amount of sleep that we allow ourselves to get. Also, some people suffer from insomnia and are unable to get adequate amounts of rest. This starts to take a bigger toll on our mental and physical states quicker than most realize, and if someone is trying to utilize neuroplasticity to their advantage, then sufficient sleep is definitely a must. Sleep is not only vital for helping us feel refreshed and alert, but it is one of the major building blocks for allowing the brain to process information, for supporting the immune system, for regulating mood, and for overall brain development. Let’s take a closer look at how sleep can directly affect brain plasticity.

How Does Sleep Affect Brain Plasticity?

When we make the conscious effort to designate sleep as a priority within our lives, our brains are able to benefit in remarkable ways. Studies suggest that sleep is especially important in the early years of life to support the development of the brain, since this is such an essential and formative period of time. REM sleep, which is one of the deepest stages of sleep and when we dream the most, and the amount of time we spend in this stage of sleep tends to decline as we get older – which also suggests that this realm of sleep plays a large role in brain maturation. Non-REM sleep has shown to have direct links towards increasing neuroplasticity, ​​and REM sleep is when the new and strengthened neural connections become more stabilized and concrete. We can likely all benefit from receiving more sleep each night, with the recommended number of hours we get being between seven and eight hours.  

Synaptic Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the body’s ability to regulate itself back to its baseline functionality, which is incredibly important. There is also homeostatic plasticity, which is the neuron’s ability to maintain its own excitability. This process allows the nervous system to operate smoothly and efficiently. Research has demonstrated that synaptic connections strengthen upon waking, and that slow-wave sleep is the time for these synapses to arrive back to a baseline degree. This process is able to aid in memory retention and energy preservation.

Memory Improvements

As it was stated in the previous point, deep sleep is a key factor when it comes to strengthening synaptic bonds. The memory can therefore improve through a regular and healthy sleep pattern. Sleep is the brain’s time to process and organize information that was received during the day, and when consistent and quality sleep is obtained, memories are able to be processed from the hippocampus into the prefrontal cortex.

Neural Growth and Organization

It is understood that sleep is imperative for maintaining the synapses and neural health. Sleep is the ideal time for the brain to rest, organize what it needs to, and to reset for the following day. The neurons within the brain grow exponentially (millions per second!) during the first year of life, when the majority of the day is spent asleep. Needless to say, without sufficient sleep, the brain cannot create and maintain the ideal level of neural connections.

Information is still being uncovered each and every day regarding the connection between sleep and brain plasticity. One of the most evident breakthroughs that has been made involves the process in which synapses minimize to a certain extent during non-REM sleep to allow for strengthened synapses upon waking. Getting the right amount of sleep each night will not only have your physical health thanking you, but also your memory, comprehension, and mental health, as well. We are able to better apply neuroplasticity to our daily lives and to use it to our advantage when we go about our days fully rested and recharged.

re-origin provides its members with methods to not only better understand neuroplasticity as a whole, but also with specific resources and approaches in which it can be applied within our daily lives. Through utilizing the benefits of neuroplasticity training program, re-origin can also help you attain better sleep if you struggle with insomnia and with staying asleep throughout the night.