When we enter a phase of deep sleep, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is responsible for "cleaning" our brain with the help of electrical signals known as short waves. This process, detailed by Boston University scientists in a new study in the journal Science, has a key role in the prevention of degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
Researchers have been studying the links between sleep and Alzheimer's for decades; Other previous studies prove that people with Alzheimer's often have problems with sleep, and there is evidence that people with sleep difficulties are more vulnerable to this disease.
"Sleep is very important to eliminate toxic metabolic waste products of the brain, "Laura Lewis, director of the study, told ScientificAmerican. Sleep deprivation, in fact, is associated with a accumulation of protein groups in the brain that are directly related to the development of Alzheimer's, so that This discovery could help clarify the link between sleep this disease.
Lewis and team set out to explore the role of brain waves in humans during sleep. What was known so far is that the activity of these waves is fast when we are awake, and slower with deep sleep.
The researchers discovered that during sleep large waves of cerebrospinal fluid flow in and out of the brain every 20 seconds, and that this process serves to eliminate waste. People with degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, they have fewer slow brain waves and these are weaker, as Lewis said. "Therefore, we could expect that there are also less and smaller waves of cerebrospinal fluid in people with these disorders."
What is still unclear is whether impaired brain "cleansing" during sleep is a cause or symptom of conditions such as Alzheimer's. " Some disruption in the way we sleep may, perhaps, contribute to the decline in brain health”Said Lewis.
One thing is clear: the dream never ceases to give us surprises. Here are other aspects that you may not know about what happens (or not) when we fall into the arms of Morpheus, the God of sleep in Greek mythology: