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Salt in brain defines are we asleep or awake

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Staff writer |
New study   The level of salts plays a critical role

Danish research is behind a new epoch-making discovery, which may prove decisive to future brain research.

The level of salts in the brain plays a critical role in whether we are asleep or awake.

This discovery may be of great importance to research on psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and convulsive fits from lack of sleep as well as post-anaesthetization confusion, according to Professor Maiken Nedergaard.

Salts in our brain decide whether we are asleep or awake. For the first time, researchers have shown that the level of salts in our body and brain differ depending on whether we are asleep or awake.

A new study from the University of Copenhagen reveals that by influencing the level of salts, it is possible to control a mouse’s sleep-wake cycle.

“These salts play a much larger and much more decisive role than hitherto imagined. The discovery reveals a completely new layer of understanding of how the brain functions. First and foremost, we learn more about how sleep is controlled.

“It may, however, also open up for a better future understanding of why some people suffer convulsive fits when staying awake all through the night,” says Professor Maiken Nedergaard from the Center for Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen.

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