A good night’s sleep is essential to living a superhero life.— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest
Mental and physical exercises are only part of the process to ensure the longevity of your brain. To give your brain a boost and improve your mental function, you also need to get a good night’s sleep.
The most refreshing sleep is deep sleep, and you can’t achieve it without the pons. The pons is the upper section of the brain stem that plays an important role in many essential processes.
In this article, we’ll examine the main pons function and explain how this small structure helps your whole body function properly.
What Is the Work of Pons in the Brain?
Located above the medulla oblongata and below the midbrain, the pons is an important part of the brain stem.
Measuring just under an inch, the pons connects the thinking part of your brain (the cerebrum) to the part of your brain that regulates movement (the cerebellum), thus allowing them to function in sync.
In combination with the medulla oblongata, the pons also connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord and ensures nerve impulses travel freely through your whole body. Simply put, the pons acts as a bridge in your nervous system, so it’s no surprise that its name means “bridge” in Latin.
Apart from connecting different parts of the nervous system, the pons is also home to some essential cranial nerve nuclei. Thanks to this, it plays a part in sensory and motor functions of the face, hearing, and eye movement. The pons is also partially responsible for voluntary movements, as well as balance.
What Does the Pons Regulate?
In addition to all these functions, the pons also plays a regulatory role in two vital processes.
One of those processes is deep sleep. As already mentioned, it is the most refreshing sleep that helps your brain process, consolidate, and store information. Sleep also frees up space in your brain, thus making room for even more useful information.
While you’re sleeping, the pons sends signals to groups of muscles that are responsible for limb movements and body posture to rest along with the rest of your body. This, in turn, prevents you from acting out on your dreams, which can happen if your pons stop functioning properly.
The pons is also home to the pneumotaxic center, which allows it to regulate the breathing process.
This center comprises numerous nerve cells that monitor your oxygen levels throughout the day. At any given moment, the pneumotaxic center measures your breathing rate to determine how much air your body needs and how often you need to breathe in.
If the pneumotaxic center detects an increased need for oxygen, your breathing rate will increase. This most often happens while you’re performing physically demanding tasks like running or exercising. Conversely, your breathing rate will decrease while you’re resting as your body needs less oxygen then.
Why is the pons important?
The pons is important because your brain wouldn’t be able to function properly without it.
Think of the pons as a messenger that delivers messages (nerve impulses) from one part of the brain to another. If this messenger suddenly disappeared, the messages would no longer be able to reach their destination. This could render you unable to do certain things that you never had problems with before.
What Happens if There Is Damage to the Pons?
Since the main function of the pons is to connect different parts of your nervous system, any damage to it would disrupt that connection and cause serious complications as a result. These can include sleep disturbances, sensory problems, and impaired voluntary movement control, among others.
If one of the arteries that deliver blood to the pons becomes clogged, your brain could stop receiving the oxygen it needs to maintain its normal processes.
Commonly referred to as lacunar stroke, this condition could limit your movement, cause difficulty while speaking and result in memory loss. In more severe cases, it could even have a fatal outcome.
Great Change Starts With Your Brain
The human brain is one of the most complex yet fascinating structures in the world. While it’s not an actual muscle, it works like one. This means that you need to exercise it to ensure its optimal function.
Although proper nutrition and physical activity are important, you must also train your brain. On top of that, you must get between seven and eight hours of refreshing sleep every single night.