Deep Sleep: The Key to Waking Up Refreshed

How Deep Sleep Clears Away Sleepiness

As adenosine levels rise in the brain, it turns down the volume on wake-promoting regions while increasing the volume on sleep-promoting regions, making us feel sleepy. Adenosine is a byproduct of cellular metabolism, and it accumulates faster than it can be cleared during wakefulness.

Deep non-REM sleep is less metabolically active than wakefulness, allowing the brain to catch up on adenosine clearance. The quality of deep sleep, particularly its electrical quality, is a good predictor of how well sleepiness is dissipated.

It’s not that non-REM sleep has a special mechanism for faster adenosine clearance; rather, the rate of accumulation during wakefulness exceeds the capacity for clearance, while during non-REM sleep, the clearance rate exceeds the buildup, allowing the brain to cleanse the adenosine debt.

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