The Magic Detoxing Way of Brain
The cerebrospinal fluid in the brain transports away the waste in it while we are sleeping. If we always fail to sleep well, the cerebrospinal fluid will not be able to remove the waste in a long run, which will result in permanent damage and irreversible changes. The latest research findings tell you: Be sure to have a good sleep!
We’ve heard too many theories about the health benefits of sleep, but we still spend the night as if it were day, working or playing the same way. The lack of sleep is a major cause for modern people’s sub-health conditions and even the emergence of a variety of diseases. We only know, based on our own experience, that if we get enough sleep, we will have a sober mind the next day, and if we sleep less or stay up all night, the brain will react dully. However, just as we lack knowledge of the benefits of adequate sleep, we also rarely recognize how much harm long-term sleep deficits can do to the body. The latest research has found that the significance of sleep is far greater than we think, and accordingly, the consequences of lack of sleep are much more serious than we know.
The Waste in the Brain
All organs need energy to function well. While producing energy, the body will also produce waste. These wastes are swallowed up by phagocytes and removed out the body through the lymphatic system. However, our brain, one of the body’s most energy consuming organs, does not have a lymphatic system.
So how does the brain clean up the waste? What harm will it do to the body if the waste is not cleared? What’s the relation between brain waste cleaning and sleep?
In fact, the lymphatics run through the whole body and is an important immune system. The lymphatics capture toxins and other waste from the space between the cells, devouring, decomposing and transforming them, and then transfer them to the bloodstream, which will be drained out of the body through the urinary system. However, human brain, the most important organ of the body, has no lymphatics! The brain is such an active organ that it produces a lot of waste every day. These waste must be cleaned up effectively in time in order to maintain the healthy operation of the brain.
How does our brain solve the problem of waste cleaning? There is an area in the brain which is filled with a kind of clean and transparent liquid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The waste in the brain goes into the cerebrospinal fluid, which takes the waste into blood stream. Afterwards, the cerebrospinal fluid flows back into the brain along the outer walls of the blood vessels, while again taking the waste away from the space between brain cells.
The use of the outer wall of the blood vessel is really a clever approach. The brain is inside a closed hard skull, and it is filled with cells. So there is no longer a spare place in the brain for channels like the lymphatic system. However, these blood vessels which are extended from the surface of the brain can reach every independent cell in the brain. This means that, by flowing along the outer walls of the blood vessels, the cerebrospinal fluid can easily reach every corner of the brain.
However, the brain only cleans up waste while sleeping! Namely, the cerebrospinal fluid only works during our sleep.
The scientists studied the brain tissue of many mice. In the brains of the awake mice, there is almost no cerebrospinal fluid flowing. Yet, in the brains of mice who are asleep, there is a rapid flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
During the day, our brain is like a busy airport, sending signals to various locations. However, when we are asleep in the nights, the brain cells contract and become smaller, creating space between the cells, and thus providing more room for the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. The cerebrospinal fluid which contains a large number of glial cells continuously washes the brain, just like brushing dishes, and takes away toxic substances. Although the cleaning work also happens during the day, the efficiency is only 15% of the night, because when the brain is actively working, there isn’t much space for the cerebrospinal fluid to flow.
Research has shown that when the brain is working busily, it will automatically delay the waste cleanup work. While sleeping, when the brain doesn’t have to work so diligently, it then switches to “cleanup mode” and begins to remove the waste that has been accumulated between brain cells during the day. Everyone knows, if we haven’t cleaned our house for one month, it will be like a garbage dump. But few knows that if the waste in the brain are not cleaned up in time, the consequence will be much more serious than not cleaning the kitchen countertop.
Dangers of Waste Accumulation
The brain has to clean up a lot of waste, one of which is amyloid beta protein. This is a protein that the brain constantly produces. Right now, your and my brains are producing it. The long-term accumulation of amyloid beta proteins is the cause for senile dementia, when the proteins, after being produced between the brain cells, are not removed in time.
Lack of sleep causes brain toxins to accumulate and accelerates brain aging. The aging brains don’t have enough glial cerebrospinal fluid to clean the waste. These metabolic waste, which is not cleaned up in time, will poison the surrounding brain cells and inhibit basic functions of the cells such as memorizing and planning.
We sleep every night, but our brains never take a break. Although our bodies aren’t moving, our minds are sleepwalking around. The brain tissues are continuously working hard to clean this complex “machine”. If the brain waste are not cleaned, it will bring harm to our thinking ability, as well as the health and functions of the body. These basic, housework-like drudgery which our brains do today, may be of great significance in preventing and treating tomorrow’s mental illness.
Rebuilding a Good Sleep Mode
When we deprive ourselves of sleep, in fact, we are losing our life. Sleep is undoubtedly the world’s best medicine. Surely, brain aging caused by lack of sleep is very scary, yet we can do something to reverse the situation. As long as we rebuild our sleep modes and have enough sleep, our brain cells will not die so quickly.
Therefore, it is extremely important to rebuild sleep modes. Let the body sleep and wake up regularly every day. Adjust the light source to be consistent with the body’s biological clock. Keeping 6-8 hours of sleep a day should not be a luxury, but a necessity.