You may be damaging your brain if you don’t sleep enough

A recent Science paper has suggested that “the brain’s unique method of waste removal — dubbed the glymphatic system — is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.”[1]

“Many neurological diseases — from Alzheimer’s disease to stroke and dementia — are associated with sleep disturbances, Nedergaard [the paper’s lead investigator] notes. The study suggests that lack of sleep could have a causal role, by allowing the byproducts to build up and cause brain damage. ‘This could open a lot of debate for shift workers, who work during the nighttime,” Nedergaard predicts. “You probably develop damage if you don’t get your sleep.’[2]

“The timely removal of waste from the brain is essential where the unchecked accumulation of toxic proteins such as amyloid-beta can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, almost every neurodegenerative disease is associated with the accumulation of cellular waste products.[2]

“These findings have significant implications for treating ‘dirty brain’ disease like Alzheimer’s,’ said Nedergaard. ‘Understanding precisely how and when the brain activates the glymphatic system and clears waste is a critical first step in efforts to potentially modulate this system and make it work more efficiently.’”[2]