While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.
During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.
"It's like a dishwasher," says Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester and an author of the study in Science.
The results appear to offer the best explanation yet of why animals and people need sleep. If this proves to be true in humans as well, it could help explain a mysterious association between sleep disorders and brain diseases, including Alzheimer's.
Nedergaard and a team of scientists discovered the cleaning process while studying the brains of sleeping mice.
The scientists noticed that during sleep, the system that circulates cerebrospinal fluid through the brain and nervous system was "pumping fluid into the brain and removing fluid from the brain in a very rapid pace," Nedergaard says.
The team discovered that this increased flow was possible in part because when mice went to sleep, their brain cells actually shrank, making it easier for fluid to circulate. When an animal woke up, the brain cells enlarged again and the flow between cells slowed to a trickle. "It's almost like opening and closing a faucet," Nedergaard says. "It's that dramatic."
Nedergaard's team, which is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, had previously shown that this fluid was carrying away waste products that build up in the spaces between brain cells.
The process is important because what's getting washed away during sleep are waste proteins that are toxic to brain cells, Nedergaard says. This could explain why we don't think clearly after a sleepless night and why a prolonged lack of sleep can actually kill an animal or a person, she says.
So why doesn't the brain do this sort of housekeeping all the time? Nedergaard thinks it's because cleaning takes a lot of energy. "It's probably not possible for the brain to both clean itself and at the same time [be] aware of the surroundings and talk and move and so on," she says.
The brain-cleaning process has been observed in rats and baboons..
It could offer a new way of understanding human brain diseases including Alzheimer's. That's because one of the waste products removed from the brain during sleep is beta amyloid, the substance that forms sticky plaques associated with the disease.
That's probably not a coincidence, Nedergaard says. "Isn't it interesting that Alzheimer's and all other diseases associated with dementia, they are linked to sleep disorders," she says.
Researchers who study Alzheimer's say Nedergaard's research could help explain a number of recent findings related to sleep. One of these involves how sleep affects levels of beta amyloid, says Randall Bateman, a professor of neurology Washington University in St. Louis who wasn't involved in the study.
"Beta amyloid concentrations continue to increase while a person is awake," Bateman says. "And then after people go to sleep that concentration of beta amyloid decreases. This report provides a beautiful mechanism by which this may be happening."
The report also offers a tantalizing hint of a new approach to Alzheimer's prevention, Bateman says. "It does raise the possibility that one might be able to actually control sleep in a way to improve the clearance of beta amyloid and help prevent amyloidosis that we think can lead to Alzheimer's disease."
Working long hours 'increases stroke risk'
They found the risk of developing stroke increased by a third in individuals who worked long hours (above 55 hours a week)
compared with individuals with traditional 9-5 working hours. The association of long working hours with heart disease was a 13% increase.
Nearly one fourth of strokes occur in people under the age of 65.
1. Increase Bright Light Exposure During The Day Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm (13, 14).It affects your brain, body and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it's time to sleep
2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure in the Evening Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect
3. Don't Consume Caffeine Late in the Day When consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. Any
4. Sleep and Wake at Consistent Times Your body's circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality (42).
5. Don't Drink Alcohol Downing a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones. Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns (70, 71).
6. Set Your Bedroom Temperature
Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly impact sleep quality.
As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good night's sleep when it's too warm.
One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise
7. Relax and Clear Your Mind in the Evening
Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax.
Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia (95, 96, 97).
8. Get a Comfortable Bed, Mattress and Pillow
Some people wonder why they always sleep better in a hotel.
Apart from the relaxing environment, bed quality can also affect sleep
9. Exercise Regularly — But Not Before Bed
Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health.
10. Don't Drink Any Liquids Before Bed
Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. It affects sleep quality and daytime energy
The brain uses around 20% of the energy the body uses yet only weights 3lbs on average, think about how stiff you are after exercise because of toxin build up.
Address what is causing you stress
Rotate busy days with easier days
Plan your day / week with regular breaks (Peak brain function diminishes after just 1 hr of concentration)
Meditate 20 min every day
Keep consuming quality foods / fluids
Look at your team for signs of exhaustion / lack of motivation
(talk and discuss with them) a day off out of the blue is also moral building
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
You cannot pour from an empty cup, neither can you team