There has been a growing awareness of the vital importance of adequate sleep for good health in body, mind and spirit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes that sufficient sleep has been increasingly recognized as a vital aspect of health promotion and chronic disease prevention in the public health community. A number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression are associated with insufficient sleep. MedPage Today reported on Oct. 18, 2013, "Sleep Empties the Brain's Dumpster."
Studies in mice have indicated that sleep's critical function is to allow metabolic waste products to be cleared from the brain. Researchers said this apparently cannot occur during waking hours. Studies of real-time imaging in live mice, who were awake, sleeping normally, and under anesthesia, showed that both the natural and artificially induced sleep states were associated with 60% increases in interstitial space within the animals' brains. There was also a large corresponding increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with interstitial fluid in sleeping mice.
The researchers reported these convective currents, which have been dubbed the "glymphatic system," were themselves found to be associated with accelerated clearance of beta-amyloid proteins from the brain during the sleeping states. Maiken Nedergaard, MD, DMSc, of the University of Rochester in New York state, said,
"An extension of the findings reported here is that the restorative function of sleep may be due to the switching of the brain into a functional state that facilitates the clearance of degradation products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness." Sleep is clearly a critical consideration for good health for a myriad of reasons.