Relaxing words heard in sleep can help slow down heart rate

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While we sleep, it might seem like we’re cut off from the world around us, but researchers from the University of Liège, in collaboration with the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, have discovered that our bodies continue to respond to external stimuli even in sleep.

This fascinating study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, explores the connection between the brain and the heart during sleep, revealing that our heartbeat changes when we hear different words while sleeping.

The team, including Matthieu Koroma, Christina Schmidt, and Athena Demertzi from the GIGA Cyclotron Research Center at ULiège, embarked on this journey to understand if the body truly disconnects from the external world during sleep.

They specifically looked at how the heart’s activity changes in response to relaxing versus neutral words. Their findings were eye-opening: relaxing words actually slow down the heart, indicating a deeper state of sleep, unlike neutral words that do not have the same effect.

This study builds on previous research that showed relaxing words could increase the duration of deep sleep and enhance sleep quality.

The researchers hypothesized that the brain processes sensory information during sleep in a way that makes the body more relaxed after hearing calming words.

To test this, they analyzed cardiac activity through electrocardiograms and found that indeed, the heart only slows down after hearing relaxing words.

The researchers didn’t stop at just observing the heart’s reaction; they compared these findings with brain activity to see how both contribute to sleep modulation.

This comparison shed new light on how the body perceives the world, not just in wakefulness but also in sleep, challenging the notion that sleep research should focus solely on the brain.

Dr. Schmidt pointed out that most sleep studies tend to overlook the body’s activity, emphasizing the need to consider both brain and body responses for a fuller understanding of how we interact with our environment during sleep.

Dr. Demertzi added that even in sleep, the brain and body remain connected, suggesting that a holistic approach is necessary to comprehend our sleep behaviors fully.

In line with the principles of open science, the team has made their methodology publicly available, encouraging other researchers to explore the heart’s role in various sleep functions further.

This work not only opens up new avenues for understanding the modulation of sleep by sensory information but also hints at the potential to study how bodily responses to sounds could influence emotional memory processing during sleep.

This groundbreaking research offers a more nuanced view of sleep, suggesting that our bodies are not just passive during this time but actively engaged with the external world.

It paves the way for future studies that could explore new methods to improve sleep quality and our overall well-being.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about herb that could help you sleep well at night, and these drugs could lower severity of sleep apnea by one third.

For more information about sleep, please see recent studies that coffee boosts your physical activity, cuts sleep, affects heartbeat, and results showing how to deal with “COVID-somnia” and sleep well at night.

The research findings can be found in Journal of Sleep Research.

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