Tuesday, 14 January 2014

I Knew There Was a Reason Dept: Sleep Is the Cleaner

Give me a chance and I'll go to sleep.  There have been times in my life when I've slept badly--waking up at the time one of the kids should be home and waiting until I heard them come in--or fitfully--even earlier, when they were waking in the night for food or comfort.  But usually if I haven't drunk coffee or alcohol, I can sleep restfully any place.

And my memory is good.  That's not bragging, that's just a fact.  So I was extremely interested in reading a piece in the Sunday New York Times about sleep and the role it serves to maintain cerebral health by allowing the physical removal of the waste products of brain function.

Chronic insomnia or sleep deprivation appears to cause long term problems including frequently "the degeneration of key neurons involved in alertness and proper cortical function and a buildup of proteins associated with aging and neural degeneration," writes Maria Konnakova.

Neuroscientists are thinking about several ways to attack the problem, either by providing an alternative to sound sleep where the brain's natural cleansing system could be simulated or by removing the brain's waste by pharmaceutical means, she writes.

In the meantime, I'll try to catch the ZZZs when I can, even if it means falling asleep occasionally on the bus.

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