Some nerve cells of the brain of a person who is awake, but suffers from lack of sleep, can be 'out of order', in a state similar to sleep, for short periods of time, while the rest of the brain is kept awake. This would explain small mistakes or forgetfulness, such as not knowing where we have placed the keys, and has been discovered by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the United States, who have published their findings in the journal 'Nature'.

You may have episodes of 'micro sleep' while you are awake, and this is probably the cause of driving drowsiness

As explained by Dr. Chiara Cirelli, Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine and Public Health of this university, signs are produced in the brain that warn of the convenience of not carrying out activities that require a state of alert, even before that we feel tired, and this is because certain groups of neurons could be sleeping, which would negatively influence the ability of the individual to act.

In fact, Cirelli points out, it is known that when we are asleep we have a hard time maintaining attention and it is easier to make mistakes, and he adds that with EEGs his team has verified that you can have episodes of 'micro dream' while you are awake, and This is probably the cause of driving drowsiness.

To conduct the study, the researchers introduced probes into certain groups of brain neurons in rats and subsequently forced them to stay awake for long periods of time; the probes registered areas of 'local dream', although apparently the rats were awake and active.

Cirelli says that the EEG measurement of rats' brains showed that they were in the waking state, even at times when some neurons were disconnected, and adds that the animals began to make mistakes when the waking period was prolonged, which they could see why they put tasks like reaching a sugar ball with a leg, and dropped the balls or could not reach them, so some neurons could have been temporarily disabled.

The researchers monitored 20 neurons, of which 18 remained awake, while in the remaining two there were periods of 'brief naps' that alternated with periods of silence. In addition, they only evaluated motor activity, so they concluded that neurons affected by 'small naps' are found in the Cortex.



The Mind After Midnight: Where Do You Go When You Go to Sleep? (November 2019).