Sufficient and restful sleep is the basic requirement for the development and performance of all cognitive processes: memory, thinking, learning, perception, attention, creativity, orientation and problem-solving skills are directly linked to the quality of our sleep. Now it seems that good sleep is also the best prevention of Alzheimer’s disease…
Experiments have shown that after a week of only four to five hours of sleep, the mental abilities of healthy test participants declined to a similar extent as with a blood alcohol level of one per thousand. No wonder, then, that around two-thirds of all road accidents are due to fatigue. Lack of sleep and sleep problems not only affect concentration and memory. They can also cause our thinking centre to poison itself over time.
Every Brain Accumulates Toxic Waste
Toxic waste products are produced with every metabolic activity. In the body, these are disposed of by the lymphatic system almost around the clock. In the brain, however, the lymphatic system cannot become active due to the blood-brain barrier. Here, metabolic waste can only be removed if we sleep relaxed. Physicians at the University of Rochester have used imaging techniques to find out how this mechanism works in mice. Old and dead cells, as well as toxic substances, are excreted much more quickly via the blood and liver in sleeping rodents than in animals that are awake.
Scientists assume that similar processes take place in our heads. They discovered that during a good night’s sleep, the volume of brain cells decreases by 60%. Viewed the other way around, the intercellular space increases so that the brain fluid can effectively flush out pollutants. So sleep has a cleansing effect on the brain. Conversely, lack of sleep can allow toxins to build up and damage the brain over time. And since some metabolic toxins are responsible for the development of neurological disorders and dementia, the assumption seems reasonable: good sleep prevents Alzheimer’s disease and promotes the ability to think!