Sleep: Getting back to the basicsMr Vitamins has stressed the importance of sleep for some time now. So, just as a reminder, sleep helps the body:
- Slow the ageing process
- Fight cancer
- Manage stress
- Boost immunity
- Balance blood sugar
- Recover after exercise
This is your Brain on SleepBrain cells, just like any other cell in the body, produce waste by-products as they function and those wastes have to be removed to avoid a buildup of toxins. Among the majority of cells, the lymphatic system is responsible for removing those wastes, but brain cells have a special system in place for their waste removal referred to as the glymphatic system. Made up of channels of astrocytes, a subgroup of specialised cells within the brain called glial cells, the glymphatic system works best while you sleep. As you may already know, the brain sits in a fluid called cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, which travels along astrocyte channels to provide the brain with nutrients and lubrication as well as other services. Well, scientists have found that as you sleep, the space between your brain cells increases allowing more CSF to pass through your cells, collect wastes, and drain those wastes out of the brain. Consequently, CSF and the glymphatic system clear the brain of harmful toxins to support its function, but this process reaches its peak of efficiency only while you sleep.
Why every hour of Sleep countsConsidering that most waste is removed from the brain while you sleep, then that means most wastes remain around your brain cells while you are awake. At the same time, researchers discovered that one of the primary waste products produced by the brain is amyloid beta, a protein fragment that induces Alzheimer Disease when it accumulates in the brain. Thus, without adequate sleep and waste removal, injurious toxins like amyloid beta can collect in the brain and lead to irreversible disease.
What you can do…right now!All this information explaining the danger of sleep deprivation may be a little overwhelming and frightening. But, don’t worry; you can change your sleeping habits starting today. The first step is to address the source of your lack of sleep. Even if you suffer from insomnia, get to the bottom of it now. Here are some additional steps you can take to a better night’s rest and a healthier brain:
- ‘Ask a Naturopath’ for help identifying why you are not getting enough sleep
- Eliminate your stress and anxiety with meditation, visualisation, and aromatherapy
- Exercise your body and mind early in the day to prepare yourself for sleep at night
- Limit using your electronic devices right before bed and reduce those devices’ brightness settings