Does that mean we can all rest easy now?
Scientists have finally answered the question of how toxins are cleared from the brain during sleep, according to a study by the University of Boston published Friday in the journal Science.
we now hope to apply new knowledge to the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
Biomedical engineer Laura D. Lewis leads a team of BU researchers examining non-REM sleep – a deep phase of sleepless sleep. Previous studies have found that when rodents are asleep, the toxins that can lead to the development of neurodegenerative diseases are cleared during unconsciousness without PEM.
Sleep without REM is also associated with memory retention and is known to usually occur earlier in the night.
"We felt that each of these indicators was important, but how they change during sleep and how they relate to each other during sleep is unknown territory to us," says Lewis Cable of Blood and Fluid. brain to blood levels.
During sleep without REM, researchers find that waves of cerebrospinal fluid ̵
"You're going to see this electric wave where all the neurons would subside," Lewis says. Excluded unwanted neurons mean less blood flow to the brain, creating space for the fluid to fill and flush out – accumulated metabolic by-products such as beta-amyloid.
If left unchecked, this protein – or "brain plaque" – could lead to a "cascade of biochemical activities culminating in the destruction of synapses," Stanford scientists previously reported. This damage can lead to neurodegenerative diseases.
To reach their breakthrough results, BU researchers needed the study participants to sleep in an MRI machine while wearing EEG caps, and to monitor participants' brains for electrical currents and other indicators.
They now hope to find clinical applications, but first, they need a break. Lewis says the project left the study authors quite exhausted.
"This is the great irony of dream study. You are limited by the time people sleep. ”