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Why do we sleep? - The scientific reason told in a breakthrough research

Updated on October 24, 2013

Dr. Maiken Nedergaard along with his team at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York has uncovered the essential reason for brain going to sleep, or in other words the reason and function of sleeping. According to the research and in a much simpler terms, the brain needs to clean up. Yes, this is what our brain does when we go to sleep.

The researchers observed while conducting experiments on mice, that gap develops between brain cells during sleep which gives way for toxins to flush out during night, "Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state."


What goes on during sleep?

When we sleep the body "plumbing" system activates. This system which in scientific terms is called as "glymphatic system" activates while creating spaces between the brain cells and letting toxic fluid to pass through them. This fluid which is called CSF or Cerebrospinal Fluid is controlled by the "plumbing" system. CSF goes in and out of the brain and spinal cord, cleaning the brain of toxins.

This is done by contracting and expanding the glymphatic system. This function is done by Gila brain cells when a hormone called noradrenaline is released thereby controlling the volume of the cell.

It is known that when toxins accumulate in brain, the brain does not function well. This is why people get fatigued and many neurological disorders are associated with the toxin accumulation in brain cells. But this research has shown that its not in the brain cells, but in between the brain cells that these toxins accumulates.

Results of experiments on mice

The researchers injected dye into the CSF of mice and monitored its flow and electrical brain activity. They noticed that the flow of dye was increased when the mice were asleep, naturally or induced, while the dye flow was negligible during hours of consciousness.

In another experiment the researchers tested the functioning of the 'plumbing system' by injecting a toxin called 'beta-amyloid'. This toxin is linked with Alzheimer's disease. The toxin cleared up faster in sleeping mice hence suggesting that toxic particles clears rapidly in a sleeping brain.

How much do you sleep?

See results

Sleep is important!

Its scientifically proven that sleep is essential and as the says goes for 'mind and body'. The research not only proved the necessity of a good night sleep but also paved the way for curing many neurological disorders.


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