How Sleep Cleans the Brain

how sleep cleans the brain

We’ve all heard that the occasional juice cleanse can do wonders for the digestive system, but what about a cleanse for the brain?  Just like the rest of our organs, our brain needs to flush out toxins to be healthy. We’ve known all along that humans need sleep to recharge our mind and body, and now we are learning why.  So, how do we go about cleaning our brain?  Sleep.

It turns out; our brains are closet germophobes, but only under the cover darkness.  A study conducted by The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), showed that the brains cleaning crew gets right to work once we’re off to dreamland.  Cleaning motive: ridding the brain of toxic waste generated during our waking hours. How cool is that?!

Dr. Nedergaard, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, led the study, uncovering the truth behind why humans need sleep and how the brain functions. Dr Nedergaard states in a NIH article, “Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain.  It appears to be a completely different state.“

The research team tested their theory on sleeping mice, and were amazed to learn that brain cells can shrink by up to 60% during sleep, clearing pathways to clean more efficiently.  This explains why cleaning doesn’t occur while we’re awake.

“You can think of it like having a house party,” Nedergaard explains, “You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”

Bottom line?

“We need sleep. It cleans up the brain,” said Dr. Nedergaard.

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