This is the best news that I have for you today from this point. It may only get worse. Not only will I tell you about the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep, but the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don't get enough. Both for your brain and for your body, let me start with the brain and the functions of learning and memory because what we've discovered over the past 10 or so years is that you need sleep after learning to essentially hit the save button on those new phone number so that you don't forget.
But recently we discovered that you also need sleep before learning. And now to actually prepare your brain almost like a dry sponge ready to initially soak up new information and without sleep the memory circuits of the brain essentially become waterlogged as it were and you can't absorb new phone number.
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So let me show you the data and here in this study we decided to test the hypothesis that pulling the all-nighter was a good idea. So we took a group of individuals and we assign them to one of two experimental groups asleep group and a sleep deprivation group. Now the Sleep group they're going to get a full eight hours of Slumber, but the deprivation group we're going to keep them awake in the laboratory Under full.
There's no naps or salman hkan by the way, so it's miserable for everyone involved. And then the next day we're going to place those participants inside an MRI scanner and we're going to have them try and learn a whole list of new facts as we're taking snapshots of brain activity. And then we're going to test them to see how effective that learning has been and that's what you're looking at here on the vertical axis.
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And when you put those two groups head-to-head, what you find is a quite significant 40 percent deficit in the ability of the brain to make new phone number without sleep. I think this should be concerning considering what we know is having to sleep in our education populations right now. In fact to put that in context it would be the difference in a child acing an exam versus failing it miserably 40%.
And we've gone on to discover what goes wrong within your brain to produce these types of learning disabilities and there's a structure that sits on the left and the right side of your brain called the hippocampus and you can think of the hippocampus almost like the informational inbox of your brain here.
It's very good at receiving new memory files and then holding onto them. And when you look at this structure in those people who had a full night of sleep, we so lots of healthy learning related activity. Getting those people who are sleep-deprived. We actually couldn't find any significant signal whatsoever.
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So it's almost as though sleep deprivation had shut down your memory inbox and any new incoming files. They were just being bounced. You couldn't effectively commit your experiences to memory. So that's the bad that can happen if I were to take sleep away from you, but let me just come back to that control group for a second drummer those folks that got a full eight hours of sleep.
Or we can ask a very different question. What is it about the physiological quality of your sleep when you do get it? That restores and enhances your memory and learning ability each and every day and by placing electrodes all over the head. What we've discovered is that there are big powerful brain waves that happen during the very deepest stages of sleep that have riding on top of them these spectacular bursts of electrical activity that we call sleep spindles.
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And it's the combined quality of these deep sleep brain waves that acts like a file transfer mechanism at night shifting phone number from a short-term vulnerable Reservoir to a more permanent long-term storage site within the brain and therefore protecting them making them safe. And it is important that we understand what during sleep actually transact these memory benefits because there are real medical and societal implications and let me just tell you about one area that we've moved this workout into clinically, which is the context of aging and dementia.
Because it's of course no secret that as we get older our learning and memory abilities begin to fade and decline. But what we've also discovered is that a physiological signature of Aging is that your sleep gets worse, especially that deep quality of sleep that I was just discussing. And only last year, we finally published evidence that these two things they're not simply.
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They are significantly interrelated. And it suggests that the disruption of deep sleep is an underappreciated factor that is contributing to cognitive decline or memory decline in aging and most recently we've discovered in Alzheimer's disease as well. Now I know this is remarkably depressing news.
It's in the mail. It's coming at you. But there's a potential Silver Lining here unlike many of the other factors that we know are associated with aging for example changes in the physical structure of the brain that's fiendishly difficult to treat. But that sleep is a missing piece in the explanatory puzzle of aging and Alzheimer's is exciting because we may be able to do something about it.
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And one way that we are approaching this at my sleep center is not by using sleeping pills. By the way, Unfortunately, they are blunt instruments that do not produce naturalistic sleep instead. We're actually developing a method based on this. It's called direct current brain stimulation. You insert a small amount of voltage into the brain.
So small you typically don't feel it. But it has a measurable impact. Now if you apply this stimulation during sleep in young healthy adults as if you're sort of singing in time with those deep sleep brain waves, not only can you amplify the size of those deep sleep brain waves but in doing so we can almost double the amount of memory benefit that you get from.
The question now is whether we can translate this same affordable potentially portable piece of technology into older adults and those with dementia. Can we restore back some healthy quality of deep sleep and in doing so can we Salvage aspects of their learning and memory function? That is my real.
Hope now that's one of our moonshot goals as it were. So that's an example of sleep for your brain, but sleep is just as essential for your body. And we've already spoken about sleep loss and your reproductive system or I could tell you about sleep loss and your cardiovascular system and that all it takes is one hour.
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Because there is a global experiment performed on 1.6 billion people across 70 countries twice a year and it's called daylight savings time now in the spring when we lose one hour of sleep. We see a subsequent 24% increase in heart attacks that following day.
in the autumn. When we gain an hour of sleep, we see a 21% reduction in heart attacks. Isn't that incredible? And you see exactly the same profile for car crashes road traffic accidents even suicide rates. But as a deeper dive I want to focus on this sleep loss and your immune. And here I'll introduce these delightful blue elements in the image.
They are called natural killer cells and you can think of natural killer cells almost like the Secret Service agents of your immune system and they are very good at identifying dangerous unwanted elements and eliminating them. In fact, what they're doing here is destroying a cancerous tumor, Mass.