Toxins get flushed out from around brain cells while we sleep. The glymphatic system does the job.
A good night's rest may literally clear the mind. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. These results suggest a new role for sleep in health and disease. The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH.
"Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state," said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and a leader of the study.
If you do not get enough sleep you do not pump out enough toxins. You poison your brain when you deny yourself sufficient sleep.
researchers were able to observe in mice – whose brains are remarkably similar to humans – what amounts to a plumbing system that piggybacks on the brain's blood vessels and pumps cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) through the brain's tissue, flushing waste back into the circulatory system where it eventually makes its way to the general blood circulation system and, ultimately, the liver.
Almost all neurodegenerative diseases are associated with accumulation of toxins.
The timely removal of waste from the brain is essential where the unchecked accumulation of toxic proteins such as amyloid-beta can lead to Alzheimer's disease. In fact, almost every neurodegenerative disease is associated with the accumulation of cellular waste products.
Why sleep? The brain does not have enough energy to run the toxin removal system while we are awake.
One of the clues hinting that the glymphatic system may be more active during sleep was the fact that the amount of energy consumed by the brain does not decrease dramatically decrease while we sleep. Because pumping CSF demands a great deal of energy, researchers speculated that the process of cleaning may not be compatible with the functions the brain must perform when we are awake and actively processing information.
Through a series of experiments in mice, the researchers observed that the glymphatic system was almost 10-fold more active during sleep and that the sleeping brain removed significantly more amyloid-beta.
What would be cool: a way to put one's brain in a state where an especially thorough cleaning gets done.
Perhaps the brain accumulates toxins as we age because our mitochondria do not generate enough energy to run the toxin disposal system. Or maybe poorer circulation to the brain lowers the amount of energy available in the brain for cleaning.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2013 October 17 10:00 PM|