I need sleep. It is very important to my health and mental clarity. My children need sleep. Children need a lot of sleep. I need a lot of sleep. Now I know why.
According a new study, sleep is not only important for resting our bodies, but the brain uses this time to flush out toxins.
The Independent reports:
A team at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) for Translational Neuromedicine now believe this waste removal system is one of the fundamental reasons for why we sleep.
The study, published today in the journal Science, reveals that the brain’s unique method of waste removal also clears away toxins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
Scientists studied images of the brains of mice, looking at the brain ‘plumbing system’ used to transport waste material out of pipes while we sleep, known as the glymphatic system.
The glyphatic system was ten times more active when the mice were asleep, as opposed to when they were awake.
Researchers found that when asleep, the brain’s cells reduce in size, making it easier for waste to be removed effectively.
To flush waste toxins out of the brain, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is pumped through the brain’s tissue, where it makes its way into the blood circulation system before reaching the liver.
However, pumping CSF fluid requires a large supply of energy. Researchers speculated that the process of cleaning may not be compatible with the functions the brain must perform when awake and actively processing information.
Given this research, we cannot underestimate the importance of sleep! It should be a priority in our lives.
When I see young children suffering from behavior or emotional problems, I often ask parents how much sleep their child gets. I know that personally, I am grumpy and short fused when I am tired, and the same holds true for children.
We need to make sure our children (and ourselves) get enough sleep not only for our emotional well-being, but to give our brains time to flush out the toxins that are largely unavoidable in our environment. The significance could be tremendous for our later neurological health.