Get your rest and get…healthier.
Medical experts have known for years that a lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of ailments, from heart disease to dry skin, diabetes to depression, even cancer. But they weren’t exactly sure why.
An eye-opening study from the University of Rochester answers the question. Researchers measured the space between brain cells of mice and found that the space increased 60 percent when the mice were asleep. This allows the lymphatic system – the brain's plumbing – to open, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow rapidly through the brain.
Researchers also injected dyed beta-amyloid, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's disease, into the mice's cerebrospinal fluid. When the mice were asleep, researchers documented how the fluid flushed toxins from the brain. The beta-amyloid disappeared quickly.
During wakeful hours, the space between brain cells closes up, and the fluid barely flows. Toxins accumulate. Researchers concluded that we need sleep because it cleans up the brain.
Follow these guidelines to better sleep:
- Go to sleep and rise at the same time daily to help strengthen your internal clock.
- Exercise daily to help you fall asleep faster, and sleep longer and more deeply.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
- Relax before going to bed: a warm bath, light reading, soothing music.
- If sleep eludes you, change your location, read something comforting, pray or meditate, listen to music.
- Maximize the benefits of better sleep with a healthier lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, reduce stress with relaxation techniques, don’t smoke, and if you drink, do so in moderation.