Sleep washes brain from waste

Sleeping has many good effects, we all know it. It is important not just to renergise you, but also to clean your brain.

Already studies have proved that during the sleep, specialized immune cells are more active in the brain, busy performing maintenance work. It is now scientifically proved that the brain makes space for new things by cleaning the waste while sleeping.

Researchers at Boston University in Massachusetts have now found that during sleep, the fluid present in the brain and spinal chord — called the cerebrospinal fluid — washes in and out, like waves, helping the brain get rid of accumulated metabolic “trash.”

“We’ve known for a while that there are these electrical waves of activity in the neurons. But before now, we didn’t realize that there are actually waves in the cerebrospinal fluid, too,” study co-author Laura Lewis explains.

It was probably for the first time the scientists were able to monitor the activity of cerebrospinal fluid in the brains during sleep.They saw that cerebrospinal fluid appears to “synchronize” with brainwaves, which likely helps remove brain waste. This waste includes potentially toxic proteins that may otherwise form buildups that can impair the flow of information between neurons.

These findings, the researchers add, could also shed fresh light on the underlying mechanisms in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, in which toxic protein plaques play a key role in memory loss and other cognitive impairments.

They also explain that normal aging may be associated with poorer self-cleaning in the brain. With age, human brains tend to generate fewer slow waves, which may reduce blood flow in the brain, as well as cerebrospinal fluid pulsations.


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