“It’s like a dishwasher,” says Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a University of Rochester School of Medicine professor. You’d never guess she’s talking about your brain.
It’s true — studies show that during sleep, your brain circulates cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain and nervous system. It pumps new fluid into the brain to refresh the old fluid. This important process washes away waste proteins that are toxic to brain cells, which might explain why you don’t think as clearly after a restless night, and why a prolonged lack of sleep can eventually kill you.
Healthy Sleep, Healthy Brain
But why can’t your brain always be “washing” itself? Nedergaard thinks it’s because brain cleaning requires a lot of energy. Your brain needs you to go to sleep so it can get to work on its daily chores.
Although this brain-cleaning process hasn’t yet been observed in humans — only in mice, rats, and baboons — experts say it could offer a new understanding of human brain diseases, especially Alzheimer’s. The brain chemical associated with Alzheimer’s, called beta-amyloid, is one that your brain fluid washes away while you sleep. This research may be the start of a new approach to helping Alzheimer’s prevention.
A good night’s sleep might be more important than you thought. Make sure you’re giving your brain adequate time to run the wash cycle — and start with a comfortable mattress. Let Gallery Furniture be your guide to restful and restorative sleep.