New research shows how sleep cleans toxins from the brain

posted by Patrick Tanguay   Nov 01, 2019

Sleep is one of those things we still don't completely understand and new discoveries are still being made. This research is quite interesting, as it brings some insights into how sleep cleans toxins from the brain.

"First you would see this electrical wave where all the neurons would go quiet," says Lewis. Because the neurons had all momentarily stopped firing, they didn't need as much oxygen. That meant less blood would flow to the brain. But Lewis's team also observed that cerebrospinal fluid would then rush in, filling in the space left behind.

The brain's electrical activity is moving fluid in the brain, clearing out byproducts like beta amyloid, which can contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

So brain blood levels don't drop enough to allow substantial waves of cerebrospinal fluid to circulate around the brain and clear out all the metabolic byproducts that accumulate, like beta amyloid.

Independent of the science, you have to wonder how people manage to sleep in an MRI machine!