Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep
Joyce Park stashed this in Brain injury
Cerebrospinal fluid acts like a brain dishwasher! Unfortunately when you have a subarachnoid hemorrhage, blood drips down into your meninges and messes up your brain dishwasher :(
Sleep-as-a-cleaning-phase could be a very real answer to the question, "Why do we need to sleep?"
I think he's onto something!
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.
This study could have significant implications for Alzheimers:
The brain-cleaning process has been observed in rats and baboons, but not yet in humans, Nedergaard says. Even so, 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."
I think that does more than just wash. I think it removes data.