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Brains flush toxic waste in sleep

I've often stated my belief that dreams have a therapeutic value and are a vital part of the 'exercising' brain when we sleep. A new study now shows, and re-enforces the theory, the biological makeup of the brain works to 'clean' the brain. An article out today in the Washington Post {I've linked the same article at the Guardian since the Post limits readership} describes how this function of the brain works. The opening of the article goes as follows:

While we are asleep, our bodies may be resting, but our brains are busy taking out the trash.

A new study has found that the cleanup system in the brain, responsible for flushing out toxic waste products that cells produce with daily use, goes into overdrive in mice that are asleep. The cells even shrink in size to make for easier cleaning of the spaces around them.

Scientists say this nightly self-clean by the brain provides a compelling biological reason for the restorative power of sleep.

“Sleep puts the brain in another state where we clean out all the byproducts of activity during the daytime,” said study author and University of Rochester neurosurgeon Maiken Nedergaard. Those byproducts include beta-amyloid protein, clumps of which form plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s the article.

Another source that provides valuable information about the power of restorative sleep is To learn more about the importance of sleep and good health I recommend taking time to read their articles on sleep deprivation and other aspects of the importance of sleep. As someone who tries to include as many good health practices as I can sleep is definitely one of them, not only to dream but also to utilize the restorative power of sleep.


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