Prioritize Good Sleep For Brain Health
Do you remember having a good night’s sleep and feel energetic, fresh, and clear the next day? Sleep has been known for its profound restorative power for thinking, memory, and functioning, and it does influence our hormones and immune system. Having a good night’s sleep can be so sweet the next day.
Although the mechanisms behind these sleep benefits are still unknown, many studies have shown that structural and physiological changes that happen in the brain during sleep affect toxin deposition in the brain that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Mark D. Shen, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
The Glymphatic System: Brain Waste Clearance System During Asleep
Scientists recently discovered a waste clearance system that promotes efficient elimination of soluble proteins and metabolites from the brain and spinal cord called the glymphatic system. It is a dynamic pathway that cerebrospinal fluid moving into the brain facilitating the clearance of wastes from the brain.
There are fluid filled spaces where they surround the certain blood vessels and transverse the brain called the perivascular spaces (PVS). This space comprises of fluids, cells, and connective tissues, which are involved in clearing the brain waste via the glymphatic system. Any functional abnormality of this space or related clearance systems might lead to accumulation of brain waste.
Recently, enlarged perivascular spaces are considered as a biomarker of brain vessel diseases which can lead to neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer. They are reported to be associated with brain waste clearance dysfunction.
Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Brain
What’s really interesting about this system is that it functions mainly during sleep and is largely disengaged during awake. Jessen, who published an article about the glymphatic system in Neurochemical Research, quote, “this biological need for sleep across all species may therefore reflect that the brain must enter a state of activity that enables elimination of potentially neurotoxic waste products, including beta-amyloid.” Beta-amyloid is renowned for accumulating in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Other research has shown that brain levels of beta-amyloid decrease during sleep.
- How sleep clears the brain. October 28, 2013 Jessen, N.A., Munk, A.S.F., Lundgaard, I. et al.
- The Glymphatic System: A Beginner’s Guide. Neurochem Res 40, 2583–2599 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11064-015-1581-6
- Dr. Jockers. Glymphatic System: Critical for Brain and Immune Health https://drjockers.com/glymphatic-system/
- Lulu Xie, Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain <https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1241224>
- Joel Ramirez, Imaging the Perivascular Space as a Potential Biomarker of Neurovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26993511/>
- Mark D. Shen, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons