Have you ever wondered why you need to sleep (and not just because you know you have to in order to survive), but really ever wondered the real ‘why’? If asked why we do, most of us wouldn’t be able to give the correct answer, in regards to the importance of sleep and how it impacts brain health.
Your Brain Cleans Itself While You Sleep
During sleep, your brain cleans out all the toxins that have accumulated while you’re awake. The cellular structure of the brain changes during sleep. One study published showed that the brain cells shrink during sleep, creating gaps between the tissues, allowing the neurological waste to be passed out and flushed away.
This waste removal system of the brain is what experts refer to as the glymphatic system. This glymphatic system has been found to be ten times more active when a person is sleeping. The brain flushes the waste through its cerebrospinal fluid. The same fluid is responsible for bringing in nutrients to the brain.
Getting Enough Sleep Lowers Your Risk of Alzheimer’s
This cleaning process does more than getting rid of toxins. Another important reason to get plenty of sleep is to enable the brain to flush out beta-amyloid proteins. If your brain is healthy these proteins are flushed out easily, however, if it isn’t healthy, this beta-amyloid can accumulate as sticky plaque and cause problems. The plaque has been found in larger amounts in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain cannot do its cleaning process which can result in the accumulation of neurotoxins such as beta-amyloid proteins.
More Beta-Amyloid Problems
Another study was aimed at determining how sleep can help prevent the onset of memory impairment. One of the findings suggested that beta-amyloid played a role in preventing a person from getting enough sleep. This in turn triggered the onset of chronic sleep deprivation.
Neuroscientist Matthew Walker, one of the experts involved in the study, found that having an increase of beta amyloids in the brain led to the increased likelihood of not being able to achieve deep sleep. It also impacted memory.
Unfortunately, the less sleep you get, the less capable your brain is of cleaning out the beta-amyloids, and the vicious cycle begins where your brain health can begin to deteriorate.
Bedtime Habits that Harm Your Brain
Neuroscience experts suggest that people pay better attention to their sleep hygiene. Factors such as diet and exercise are certainly important for enabling the body to get enough sleep. However, there are other, more specifically, bad habits that can hinder quality sleep.
For example, sleeping with a smartphone close to your head adversely affects certain patterns of the brain. Smartphones emit signals that have the capability of adversely restructuring brain cells and preventing the process of cleaning out neurotoxins.
The electrical radiation that is emitted from smartphones and other mobile devices is picked up by the brain. Although scientists are still trying to determine just how much damage wi-fi gadgets are causing to the brain, it’s safe to say that removing them from close proximity is a good habit to get into. In doing so, you are giving your brain the chance to clean itself, and also getting quality sleep that is essential to physical health too.
Sleep, Even If You Don’t Feel Sleepy
Quite often you’ll hear people say how they don’t need a lot of sleep, yet they are still capable of doing what is required of them. Unfortunately, even if a person does not feel sleepy, they need to go to sleep! The brain needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night for it to be able to get rid of the neurotoxins.
Plus, whether a person believes it or not, a well-rested brain is far more capable of performing optimally than one that is sleep deprived.
If getting enough sleep at night is a challenge for you, take the time for a 20-minute nap during the day. Taking a nap is like recharging your smartphone battery. It boosts your brain’s memory and learning capacity. People who are able to nap for an hour or even 1.5 hours are able to help their brain build new connections, which translates to improved creativity.
Although many people would like to believe that the brain has unlimited powers, research suggests otherwise. Experts have found that the brain has limitations. For example, it cannot perform its daily tasks while doing its housekeeping. It either needs to work or clean. Therefore, if you want to keep a healthy, clean brain, let it do its job when it needs to and go and get some sleep!
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