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  • Writer's pictureDr. CK Bray

Night Shift: How Your Brain Cleans House While You Snooze



Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have discovered an intriguing function of neurons during sleep. They found that neurons activate in rhythmic waves to drive fluid through the brain, effectively flushing out metabolic waste and other toxins. Surfs up, and your brain gets cleaned.

 

This cleaning action is crucial because it helps prevent the buildup that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

 

The process of cleaning the brain, however, is complex. As we sleep, the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain tissues collects debris and must navigate through a dense network of cells before it can be expelled. This study revealed that synchronized neural activity is what propels this fluid through the brain, with the waves generated by the neurons acting much like a pump.

 

The implications of this research are profound, particularly in our understanding and potential treatment of neurological conditions. Li-Feng Jiang-Xie, a postdoctoral researcher and first author of the study, proposes that bolstering this natural cleaning process could be a viable strategy to delay or even prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, a breakthrough that could revolutionize healthcare.

 

Once again, we are learning more and more about the importance of sleep and brain health, performance, and optimization.

 

*Published on Feb. 28th, 2014, Journal of Nature. Sleep Brainwaves Flush Brain of Waste. Li-Feng Jiang-Xie et al.


 

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