Brain waves during sleep, Sleep Brain waves, Micro-earthquakes in Brain, Brain waves in sleep
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Brain waves during sleep follow a mathematical pattern similar to Earthquakes

Sleep is the most peaceful and restful state we have in our everyday life. But if you could zoom in to your brain to see what’s happening inside during your sleep, you might get surprised. The brain is much more restless during your sleep.

Scientists like to call them “Micro Earthquakes” inside the brain, which is essential for a peaceful sleep. And there is a reason behind this unique naming.

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As per the new analysis, the mathematical laws governing the sleep are similar to that of an earthquake. Every night your brain cycles through a sequence of stages from light to deep sleep. And these cycles occur every 90 min. Every stage has an assigned job, like keeping you well-rested or integrate your memories. The transition between these stages happens spontaneously by a phenomenon that is unexplainable for now, according to Plamen Ivanov, a physicist at Boston University.

Today, regardless of the development in sleep neuroscience, many of the questions regarding sleep stage transitions remain unanswered. These transitions occur at different times but with similar characteristics.

However, Ivanov from Boston University found an answer to the question, What triggers this spontaneous change in sleep stages?. Ivanov published his findings on Thursday in PLOS Computational Biology, providing an explanation for the spontaneous changes in sleep stages.

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He studied the sleeping brain of rats and found the pattern of sleep stages to be similar to that of earthquakes, otherwise an extremely rare pattern in nature.

Brain waves during sleep

Sleep stages are conventionally defined by certain types of waves or rhythms inside the brain commonly found in each stage.  For example, deep sleep is characterized by delta waves, whereas the early stage of sleep is defined by theta waves.

But if carefully zoom in to theses stages, one would find more than just one wave inside the brain. According to Ivanov, one could discover bursts of waves apart from the delta waves in deep sleep.

He did an extremely detailed statistical study of these bursts, how they happen, and do they affect the sleep stages. He found that the quick bursts of theta waves are followed by an active phase of brain activity, and then suddenly, a burst of delta waves happen, leading the brain to a quiescent phase of inactivity.

Ivanov points out that that this is a rare case in nature where such dynamics exist in a single process.

Although it’s rare, the statistical patterns are similar to an event occurring outside the brain, the earthquake. Earthquakes are also characterized by bursts of activity followed by quiet activities. Earthquakes and sleep stages are completely different events, but the mathematics underlying them are similar.

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These finding helps to understand how such transitions can occur during sleep without any external stimuli. This understanding would ultimately benefit us in medical science.

This spectacular series of activities happening inside our brain when we fall asleep is exceptionally organized but strangely follows an earthquake-like pattern.

Editors Note; Brain waves during sleep, Spontaneous micro-earthquakes in the brain helps in sleeping, The mathematical pattern of sleep stages similar to that of the earthquake.

Author : Namitha Thampi

Perfection is her hobby, Reliability is a synonym, Editing is her passion, Excellence is her Goal, Tactfulness is in her genes, Yellow is her Fav color. Preety is the name of the Professional on whom entire BioTecNika relies when it comes to its website. A Gold Medalist in Biotech from SRM University, Chennai with a 9.9 CGPA ( was awarded the Gold Medal by Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi , as seen in the pic ), She decided to join forces with BioTecNika to ensure India's largest BioSciences Portal expands its reach to every city in India. She has redesigned the new avatar of BioTecNika from scratch and heads the most dynamic, vibrant and well informed Online Team at Biotecnika Info Labs Pvt Ltd