Throbbing blood vessels wash the brain while you sleep

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Researchers at the University of Oslo have made new discoveries regarding how and why our brain “washes” itself during sleep.

The process of removing harmful waste products from the brain is called brain waste clearance or “brainwashing”.

The brain is continually producing waste substances, and if too many accumulate, it raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The researchers discovered that blood vessels in the brain dilate and constrict in certain patterns while we sleep, likely driving the clearance of these waste substances.

The team explains that the discoveries can help them find new ways to treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

These findings can also help to create strategies to deliver drugs to the brain more efficiently.

The study observed that blood vessels in the brain, specifically the arteries, dilated and constricted in certain patterns unique to each stage of the sleep cycle, including deep sleep, REM sleep, and even brief awakenings.

The researchers used an advanced laser microscope to examine what was happening in the brains of mice while they were sleeping naturally.

The movements of the blood vessels in the brain during sleep likely pump fluids around the brain, cleansing it of waste substances.

This process of waste clearance is far more efficient during sleep than when we are awake.

The researchers discovered that artery dilations and constrictions during sleep affect the size of the channels around the blood vessels that transport fluids and molecules in the brain.

This widening and narrowing of the channels in step with the blood vessels lead to changes in the flow of fluids and the transport of substances in the brain.

The researchers believe that this new study may explain why the flow of fluids and waste clearance in the brain is different during sleep compared to when we are awake.

They also suggest that blood vessel dynamics in sleep could be a potential target for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and for improving drug delivery to the brain.

The findings are significant and can help to find new ways to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The study highlights the importance of sleep and its potential impact on our brain health.

How to improve brain health

Improving brain health is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Here are some tips on how to improve your brain health:

Regular Exercise: Exercise is not just good for your body; it also has many benefits for your brain. Regular exercise can boost blood flow to the brain, which can help improve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Healthy Diet: A healthy and balanced diet can help improve brain health. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide the necessary nutrients that the brain needs to function properly.

Mental Stimulation: Challenging your brain with mental exercises such as puzzles, games, reading, and learning new skills can help improve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Adequate Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for good brain health. Sleep helps consolidate memories and promotes brain repair and restoration.

Stress Reduction: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on brain health. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress and improve brain function.

Social Interaction: Social interaction and staying engaged with others can help maintain cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Limiting Alcohol and Tobacco: Drinking alcohol in moderation and avoiding tobacco can help protect the brain and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

In conclusion, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, mental stimulation, adequate sleep, stress reduction, social interaction, and limiting alcohol and tobacco can help improve brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Omega-3s could improve brain structure, cognition at midlife.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and eating more fish may protect the brain from vascular disease.

The study was conducted by Associate Professor Rune Enger et al and published in Nature Communications.

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