Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Am I a Glymphomaniac?

I'm one of those crazy people that absolutely *loves* sleeping. Yes, napping is one of my hobbies, and I'd sleep 12 hours a day, if I could.

Sadly, I just don't get to nap as much as I should, especially on the weekends. Without my weekend naps, I found myself a bit more tired than I used to be, especially during the middle of the work day.

Where am I going with this?

Scientists have long been baffled as to WHY, exactly, we need to sleep. Yes, sleeping helps our muscles relax and recover, but that is generally just a function of the human body over time. Human bodies don't simply overheat with us, like a car engine.

Well, a landmark study seems to help pinpoint one major reason why we do need to sleep, after all.

The US team believe the "waste removal system" is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep. Their study, in the journal Science, showed brain cells shrink during sleep to open up the gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean.

They also suggest that failing to clear away some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders.

It has been shown to have a big role in the fixing of memories in the brain and learning, but a team at the University of Rochester Medical Centre believe that "housework" may be one of the primary reasons for sleep.

"The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choose between two different functional states - awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up," said researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard.
If this is true, it would explain why people can die from sleep deprivation, or why a lack of sleep can cause your body to do funny things, or simply just not function at optimal levels.

So, the next time my wife complains about my napping, I can just found her to this and state that I need to take my Glymphatic System for a long trip to the bathroom. I get grumpy when my brain is still dirty!