Missing a night’s sleep can make you feel lousy and fuzzy-headed. New research published in Science shows why: sleep helps your brain clear away toxins and awake in the morning refreshed and thinking clearly. Using a new imaging technique known as two photon microscopy, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) showed that, in mice, the brain’s waste removal system is nearly ten times more active at night. It’s called the glymphatic system, and this neurological garbage collector uses existing blood vessels to pump CSF into the brain and wash the neurons. As it exits the brain, it takes #toxins with it. The scientists also found that brain cells seem to shrink during sleep, which provides more space for the CSF to flow and take out the day’s trash. It’s a major step, scientists say, to understanding the ancient mystery of why we sleep.
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Journal article: Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain. Science, 2013.