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The benefits of sleeping

LET'S BE honest, we all love to sleep – it’s relaxing, enjoyable and healthy. But heavy sleepers have for a long time been tarnished with the ‘lazy’ tag. Until now.

We all know that getting enough sleep is essential if we want our bodies to recuperate, but now we know it also cleans the brain. US scientists say that sleeping “drives metabolite clearance”.

They mean
That sleep cleans away useless gunk and residue that builds up during the day. Which leaves you with a clearer head for thinking and making decisions at work.

How does it work?
Brain cells in mice shrink while they are asleep, says the study in a recent issue of the journal Science. This opens up gaps between the neurons, which lets in fluids that wash the brain. The glymphatic system (the brain’s plumbing) is ten times more active when you’re asleep. This waste-removal system could be one of the fundamental reasons for sleep. 

If these pesky toxic proteins don’t get cleared away
This could lead to brain diseases and disorders. Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease lead to loss of brain cells, and they are characterised by the build-up of damaged proteins on the brain.

Researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard says
“The brain has limited energy at its disposal and must choose between two functional states – awake and aware, or asleep and cleaning up. Think of it like having a house party. You can entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”


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