Good Sleep and a Healthy Brain
During sleep, brain cells shrink up to 60% enabling fluid to drain through these channels into the lymphatic system.
Good sleep: what does it have to do with brain health?
Dr Maiken Nedergaar, a Danish biologist, has done some fascinating research into how the brain clears its waste products. She has written a great book about the brain’s plumbing system, cleverly called “The Brain’s Drain”.
Our brain produces 1.5 Kgs of waste per year! The by-products of brain function are comprised of proteins which need to be cleared into the lymphatic system and removed from the body.
A toxic buildup of protein is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. By studying the brains of mice, researchers discovered an amazing system of drainage channels which flow along blood vessels. During sleep, brain cells shrink up to 60% enabling fluid to drain through these channels into the lymphatic system. Glial cells are the brain’s supporting cells which are involved in this drainage system. Dr. Nedergaar calls the brain’s drain the ‘glymphatic system’.
Good sleep is important because our brain clears waste twice as fast during sleep!
8 hours of good sleep is necessary so the brain janitorial system can drain away waste and recharge for the next day. Inadequate sleep can allow a buildup of proteins that could accelerate Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Getting good sleep is achievable!
Firstly, it’s hard to sleep well when you have tight muscles or suffer from neck or low back pain. Our chiropractors and occupational therapists use a range of effective techniques that ease pain and relax your body. Good sleep can be achieved naturally by optimizing diet, exercise, and your sleep environment. Relaxation techniques, a good pillow and mattress and supplements can also play a big part. If good sleep is something you need help with, talk to us about how you can change things for the better. Your brain will love you for it!