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your brain washes itself while you’re sleeping

I want you to listen up and learn that, your brain cleans itself WHILE YOU’RE SLEEPING by washing out toxins. I mean… brain, right? And, among other things, this built-in brain feature reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, researchers presume.

“It’s like a dishwasher,” says Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester and an author of the 2013 study in Science. The “soap” for this brain auto-cleaning mode is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

During sleep, CSF volume dramatically increases, washing away toxic waste proteins that accumulate between brain cells when we’re awake, harming them, as a study of mice found.

By the way, there are two main types of brain cells: neurons (nerve cells) and neuroglia (glia cells).

This increased flow is possible because when mice sleep, their brain cells shrink, facilitating fluid circulation. Upon waking, the brain cells enlarge again, and the flow between cells slows down. “It’s almost like opening and closing a faucet,” say the authors. “It’s that dramatic.”

This phenomenon might explain the foggy thinking after a sleepless night and why prolonged lack of sleep can be lethal to both humans and animals.

But why doesn’t the brain do this housekeeping all the time? Authors suggest it’s because cleaning requires a lot of energy, something not feasible when we’re awake and multitasking with activities like moving, talking, listening… you get it.

The brain-cleaning process observed in mice and baboons has also been noticed in humans. This discovery could revolutionize our understanding of human brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

One of the waste products removed during sleep is beta-amyloid, the substance forming sticky plaques on brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Nedergaard finds it intriguing that diseases linked to dementia, including Alzheimer’s, are associated with sleep disorders.

A recent study also reported that specialized immune cells are more active in the brain during sleep, performing necessary maintenance work.

In conclusion, we need sleep. It’s the brain’s cleanup time.

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