Studies show sleep can aid cleansing waste from brain

MATT HARDIE

Sleep tight: Maintaining healthy sleeping patterns said to flush disease-causing waste from the adult brain.

Sleep tight: Maintaining healthy sleeping patterns said to flush disease-causing waste from the adult brain. Photo: Matt Hardie

Research has found that sleep naturally cleanses the brain of the daily-accumulated waste that contributes to neurological diseases and disorders.

The study was conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center and published in a recent issue of the journal Science.

Researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard said the brain has differing functional states depending if a person is unconscious or awake.

“The restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness,” Dr Nedergaard said.

Among these wastes included the protein amyloid beta, which can be a major cause of neurological diseases in later life.

The research suggested that waste is flushed from the brain tissue by cerebral spinal fluid and  that it can be ten times more active whilst in a deep sleep.

“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,” Dr Nedergaard said.

“The brain only has limited energy at its disposal.

“You can think of it like having a house party; you can either entertain guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”

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