Sleep, it’s an age old tale.
Getting the right amount of sleep is incredibly important for both the mental and physical body.
It’s a fact that’s been known for years, but up until recently, scientists couldn’t explain why it was so important, just that is was.
According to the Verge, a research team working out of the University of Rochester Medical Centre have finally found out the exact reason sleep is so crucial to a healthy lifestyle.
It’s called the glymphatic system, and it acts like a self cleansing mechanism while the body is on shutdown.
Much like how the lymphatic system (named after lymphnotes) rids the body of toxins and waste, the glymphatic system cleanses the brain material of toxins harboring in the gray matter.
Gray matter is what most people think of when their eyes are closed and they’re asked to picture a brain. During sleep, cerebrospinal fluid flows through the passages of the brain that open up while the glymphatic system is operating.
Much like a car wash that uses powerful water hoses to clean the waste off of the vehicles that passes through it, the glymphatic system uses cerebrospinal fluid to clear the waste that has built up in the brain.
While the body is temporarily out of commission overnight, the passages become wider so the glymphatic system can clear more toxins than during the day.
Researchers also told the Verge that the speed at which the glymphatic system operates at is incredibly rapid. They believe it’s due to the energy consumption the glymphatic system needs to properly conduct its cleaning.
During the day, or when the body is active, energy is dispersed to various body parts and activities. At night, or when the body is asleep, a large part of the energy can be focused on the brain and the glymphatic system can do its job.
The researchers also said it’s one of the main reasons a body needs about eight hours of sleep a night. More allotted time for the body to rest, means more allotted time for the glymphatic system to do its work and nurture one of the body’s most powerful organs.