We've heard for years that sleep is important for our health. During sleep is the optimal time for physical growth and memory storage, and now also for detoxing. New research at the University of Rochester Medical Center revealed a system for removing waste products from our brain, and it can only happen when we are asleep. This process has been termed the “glymphatic system” (because it relates to the body’s lymphatic system which cleans the blood of toxins, and brain cells are referred to as “glial cells”). Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, the study’s lead author, explains the necessity of sleep for the glymphatic system:
“’The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must [choose] between
two different functional states-awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up. You can think of it
like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you
can’t really do both at the same time.’”
During this time of sleep, the brain cells actually shrink in size by up to 60% to increase space and allow for the glymphatic system to be as efficient as possible. As more information becomes known, it is clear that sleep is a vital part of our brain and body health. Make time to rest; your brain will thank you.