Detox Your Brain Tonight

brain detox

Washing Away Neurotoxins May Be The Best Detox Yet

Ever heard of a brain detox? Toxins can build up in the brain at an alarming rate.  Brain cells have a very taxing function.  So much so, in fact, that it appears that they are not able to do their work and clear out the toxic by-products of their metabolism at the same time.  This is different than most other cells in our bodies.  Our heart cells, for example, need to keep operating without a break every second for our entire lives. What the very latest research seems to show about brain functioning is that brain cells have such a tough job of that they are constantly running in overdrive mode just by being conscious.  The only way to really clear out the toxins is for the brain to power down into sleep mode…or detox mode.

While we’re awake, our brain cells accumulate various metabolic by-products such as the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine, which diminishes our mental focus.  New research shows that during sleep, some brain cells shrink, opening up the interstitial space between cells by about 60 percent so that cerebrospinal fluid can wash away neurotoxins and other by-products of brain cell function that accumulate while we are awake.

An entire system of plumbing for this has only recently been discovered, in part because it nearly disappears while we are awake.  This is the primary way that the brain detoxes, and it works ten times better while we sleep than it does when we’re awake.  In addition to adenosine and other metabolites, this system has been shown to clear out beta-amyloid, a neurotoxin associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  One understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s is that it they are accompanied by an accumulation of beta-amyloid into plaques around brain cells, so it is quite possible that “rinsing away” the neurotoxins through more or better sleep could play a beneficial role.

So, one vital function of sleep is to help the brain detox. It detoxifies like an oil change for your car, and it has similar consequences for going too long between treatments.

What do you do to get a good night’s sleep?