And, not sleeping can kill you too…
Last year, Deane and his colleagues discovered that the brain has its own special garbage disposal system, which they’ve dubbed the glymphatic system, named after the glial cells that are involved in the waste disposal process and the lymphatic system. The glymphatic system is made up of star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes, which form a network of water channels surrounding the brain’s blood vessels.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows into the brain along the channels that surround the arteries. The fluid then washes through the brain tissues and intermixes with the waste-filled interstitial fluid that surrounds the cells of the brain. Finally, the CSF collects in the channels around the veins and drains out of the brain, taking the metabolic waste with it.
Importantly, the team discovered that the glymphatic system is responsible for clearing the brain of amyloid beta — a metabolite that many researchers believe can lead to Alzheimer’s disease if it builds up and destroys neurons. This suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may arise because of a faulty glymphatic system.
In fact, the researchers showed that removing the water channels in mice causes amyloid beta to build up in the brain.
Apparently the old comment about dreams being, “Your brain taking out the trash,” turn out to be a lot more literal then we thought. Sleep is precisely just that, your brain washing out the toxins it created throughout the day and lack of sleep may have a lot to do with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.