Catch a wink, said the old wives tale! How true! Researchers confirm that catching up on the sleep is very helpful as the waste toxins that collect during the daytime in the body are swept clean by the brain with sleep. A new study confirms that the brain utilizes sleep in order to get rid of the waste toxins that accumulate during day.
Effective garbage removal system
Heard that rotten garbage gives out a bad stink? Well, a lot of toxins and waste products start to collect in our body during the waking hours and they need to be removed and for that a proper garbage removal technique is a must. So the US scientists state that the brain does the waste removal during the sleep timings and thus acts like a proper “garbage removal system,” by cleaning the built up waste.
A research team at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) for Translational Neuromedicine state that this action of sleeping and removing waste is precisely the reason why we sleep. This actually may be the main reason for catching up on sleep they say!
The research study
The researchers published their study on this unique waste removal method undertaken by the brain in the journal Science. They said that the brain may also be succeeding in removing the toxins that contribute to the deadly neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists took a peek into the glymphatic system of the mice brains.
The glymphatic system is the ‘plumbing system’ of the brain that is actually responsible for transporting the toxins out of the pipe during the sleeping moments. They could get an idea of the human brains in this way. The surprising fact they noticed was that the activity level of the ‘plumbing system’ or the glymphatic system was ten times more during the periods the mice slept as compared to the times they were awake.
The cerebral spinal fluid
The times when the sleep took over the cells of the brains showed a reduction in size and the waste products could be removed better and easily. The cerebral spinal fluid or CSF is propelled through the brain tissue and it helps in throwing out the toxins and the wastes. This fluid then travels through the blood and circulates through the body finally landing up in the liver. A large energy resource is needed to force the CSF through the brain tissue and this may not be possible when the “awake” brain is involved in its active information processing stage during the wakeful hours.
Talking about the sleep and the brain function the lead author of the article, Dr Maiken Nedergaard, enlightened: “The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choice between two different functional states – awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up.You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time,” said Nedergaard.
Dr Nedergaard further added that this may help in curing the nasty brain disorders and stated “Understanding precisely how and when the brain activates the glymphatic system and clears waste is a critical first step in efforts to potentially modulate this system and make it work more efficiently.”