A new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center has concluded that the brain behaves differently when it's awake than when it's asleep. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, lead author of the study says "In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.”
The study shows that when we are sleeping our brain goes into 'cleaning' mode. Our brain cells actually shrink in size allowing for toxins to be washed away more effectively. Our brain's blood vessels pump cerebral spinal fluid thought the brain, and then flushes it back into our circulatory system where eventually the toxins are cleared in the liver. Many of the toxins are believed to be linked to Alzheimer's disease and other neurological diseases.
Dr. Nedergaard concludes that
“These findings have significant implications for treating ‘dirty brain’ disease like Alzheimer’s, understanding precisely how and when the brain activates the glymphatic system and clears waste is a critical first step in efforts to potentially modulate this system and make it work more efficiently.”