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Sleep and the Brain – 5 Important Functions of the Brain While You Sleep

By Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea
While we are sleeping, resting our bodies, our mind goes to work.

Sleep and the BrainAt bedtime, you shut down your computer, TV, smartphone and your busy schedule… but now it is time for your brain to go to work. The 8 hour workday is just starting for the brain. The brain remains highly active throughout your sleep to allow you to perform a host of functions during the course of the day.

1. It clears out the trash.  
Cerebral spinal fluid is pumped more quickly throughout the brain while you sleep. It acts like a vacuum cleaner taking away waste products and toxic proteins that can lead to dementia over time. So when you wake, you start your day with a clean slate.

2. It locks in what you learn.  
The brain restores and retains information that was not ingrained during the day…let’s say like the person you promised to call for a very important reason. Experts call this “consolidation” and it is very important in protecting against further information loss as well as improving your ability to learn when you are awake. It even can enhance your language skills and hand-eye coordination.

3. It preserves important memories.
This is especially true for emotional memories. Your brain selects and enhances the experiences that are most valuable to you…your child’s graduation from high school or the birth of a child. What is just as amazing is that it downgrades the memories that are not as important, like what you ate 5 days ago.

4. It helps you keep chronology straight.
The brain replays the memories of your daily events and it also files away and reestablishes the order in which those things occurred. This happens during the deepest stage of sleep.

5. It prevents you from acting out your dreams.
In the deepest stage of sleep, stage 4 sleep, the part of your brain that is responsible for relaying nerve impulses throughout the spinal cord sends a message to turn off motor neurons, causing temporary paralysis. Why? This happens so you don’t find yourself physically acting out your dreams and the stories that are running through your mind while you are asleep.

Negative Effects of Sleep Apnea
Maintaining regular breathing during sleep is a problem for over 20 million Americans. As a result, they do not receive the necessary amount of oxygen their body needs to rejuvenate from proper, restful sleep. Moderate to severe levels of snoring may really be Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) — also referred to as “sleep disordered breathing.” Sleep apnea is associated with cardiovascular disease, daytime sleepiness and even increased mortality. Sleep related accidents of all types, including motor vehicles, has been said to average over $50 billion per year.

Qualified Sleep Dentist
Dr. Pribyl at Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea is a qualified sleep dentist who uses cost-effective sleep screening tools to determine the effectiveness of an oral appliance to manage sleep apnea and snoring. The measurements he uses allow the proper sleep orthotic (sleep appliance) to be constructed for the patient to wear. The appliance is designed to increase the airway when sleeping to deter or eliminate snoring and assist with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Determining jaw position and airway opening are the keys to managing these conditions. Many patients are able to reduce or quit using their CPAP machine altogether.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pribyl
for a Sleep Apnea consult, please call our office at 816-795-1000, or visit us online at

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