It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is important. But it’s also pretty strange that all living things require substantial shut-eye that leaves them vulnerable in a world full of danger. So what makes the benefits of sleep so great that it’s worth the risk?

This is the question that researchers from Bar-Ilan University sought to answer. In a study now published in Nature Communications, they wanted to discover how to define sleep and why we all sleep.

“If you think it through, it seems odd that this feature is so well-kept, because it’s dangerous,” says brain scientist Prof. Lior Appelbaum, one of the study’s co-authors. “In the jungle, if you’re in sleep mode you’ll get eaten by a tiger.”

This seeming contradiction led the researchers to believe that sleep must have fundamental importance. To determine whether this is the case, they used innovative 3D time-lapse imaging techniques to scan the chromosome activity of zebrafish cells to see what happens when the fish sleep.

The first discovery they made was that – contrary to expectations – the chromosomes move almost twice as much when the fish goes to sleep. “We can define single sleeping cells using this chromosome movement and dynamics,” says Appelbaum.

Using the scanning techniques, the researchers also discovered that single neurons require sleep in order to perform nuclear maintenance.

“During wakefulness, we accumulate DNA damage in the neurons in the brain,” Appelbaum tells ISRAEL21c. “If we continue to prevent the fish from sleeping, the DNA damage is accumulated.”

“By the end of the night [when the fish have slept], they normalize everything and the neurons are back to normal,” he explains.

“It’s like potholes in the road,” Appelbaum adds. “Roads accumulate wear and tear, especially during daytime rush hours, and it is most convenient and efficient to fix them at night, when there is light traffic.”

Read more: Sleep vital to repair DNA damage

And finally, Alzheimer’s Biomarker Tied to Sleep Apnea as reported by Judy George for, 3 March 2019.

As measured in PET scans, older adults with apnea had significantly higher levels of tau in the entorhinal cortex on average than those who did not have apnea, after controlling for age, sex, education, cardiovascular risk, and other factors, reported Diego Carvalho, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues, in an early-release abstract from the American Academy of Neurology meeting to be held here in May.

The findings come on the heels of other studies of sleep and tau, including research from Washington University in St. Louis that showed non-REM slow wave activity was tied to tau pathology: people with increased tau pathology were sleeping more, but were not getting good quality sleep.

Read more: Alzheimer’s Biomarker Tied to Sleep Apnea

Bottom line:  If you are dealing with a lot of fatigue, you might want to ask your doctor about sleep apnea or other sleep issues … It’s VITAL!!!