What is Myelin?
Myelin is a fatty sheath that insulates the neurons. It is needed for the fast propagation of signals(saltatory conduction) through neurons. Oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells are responsible for its production in central nervous system and peripheral nervous system respectively. Myelin producing cells in brain are different from neuronal cells as they lack the electrical properties of neurons. They are also called interstitial cells of brain.
The newly discovered relationship between sleep and myelin forming cells:
A recent research published in journal of neuroscience have shown that sleep is vital in the proliferation of oligodendrocytes precursor cells(OPC). Its the OPCs that differentiate into oligodendrocytes during sleep. This means sleep induces the formation of oligodendrocytes in neurons. This research does not tell anything about schwann cells which are responsible for myelin formaion in peripheral neuron.
Why is this finding important?
This finding might be important for neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis where there is loss of myelin.
This further highlights the molecular impact of sleep on brain cells. Not only the sleep beneficial for neuronal cells, but also for interstitial cells like oligodendrocytes.
More oligodendrocytes after sleep means more myelin in your neurons and thus more effective signal propagation.
References and for further reading: