Sleep DETOXES THE BRAIN; A Good Night''s Shuteye May Be Even More Important to Our Health Than We Thought

The People (London, England), November 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Sleep DETOXES THE BRAIN; A Good Night''s Shuteye May Be Even More Important to Our Health Than We Thought


Byline: WORDS: JENNY ELLIS

Waking refreshed after a sound sleep is not only a great way to start the day, it also may prove key to your overall mental well-being.

Scientists have found the brain actually uses sleep as a waste removal system; clearing away the toxins built up during the day.

Tests on mice at the US's University of Rochester Medical Center have shown that during sleep, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped around the brain flushing out waste products.

It seems likely the cleaning detected in sleeping mice happens in people, too.

Put simply, staying up all night could prevent the brain from getting rid of these toxins as efficiently and explain why sleep deprivation has such strong and immediate consequences.

Most of us have experienced the foggy head of a bad night's sleep but Helen Potts, 39, of Manchester, knows better than many how miserable that can be.

Two years ago, after years surviving on limited sleep, Helen was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

She says, 'Having OSA meant that while I was asleep, I'd stop breathing for up to forty times an hour.

'This meant that I was never getting into a deep sleep. During the years before my diagnosis I was always tired. My alarm would go off in the morning and I'd literally have to drag myself out of bed.

'During the day I'd walk around in a daze, feeling like my head was in the clouds. I suffered from terrible headaches, often causing me to be physically sick.

'I was snappy and, at times, I'd find it hard to be patient with my two children.

Sometimes, on the way to and from work, I'd have to pull over to have a quick power nap. At other times, I'd feel so tired that driving was dangerous so I'd have to ring my husband to come and pick me up.' Sleep research results, published in the Science journal, shows that during sleep gaps open between neurons in the brain letting fluid flow rapidly through it. The researchers injected dye into the cerebrospinal fluid of mice and watching it flow through their brains while monitoring electrical brain activity.

The dye flowed rapidly when the mice were unconscious, either asleep or anesthetized.

In contrast, the dye barely moved when the same mice were awake.

Other research shows the body restores itself during sleep with tissue repairing and growing and the immune system getting stronger. Scientists think sleep may fix brains and be critical to its healthy function.

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Sleep DETOXES THE BRAIN; A Good Night''s Shuteye May Be Even More Important to Our Health Than We Thought
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