The Glymphatic SystemPosted 5 years ago under Uncategorized
The glymphatic system is the cleansing system of the brain. Like the lymphatic system, the glymphatic system removes waste from interstitial fluid, but this neurological system requires rest in order to do its job. Cleansing of the brain happens when sleeping.
Brain cells, like all cells of the body, require food and oxygen for metabolism. And like all cells of the body, brain cell metabolism results in some waste. During the day, this waste collects in the brain’s interstitial fluid. Some of this waste dissolves in the fluid, but most of it collects, waiting for sleep. (1)
One of the more unusual aspects of the brain cleansing process is the dramatic change undergone by the brain cells during sleep. They actually shrink. The space between the cells increases by 60%, which aids in the cleansing process. Cerebral spinal fluid flows into the space, aided by the pulse of the arteries. It mixes with the interstitial fluid and washes the waste toward the veins and carries it to the liver. This process occurs during slow wave sleep, the deepest sleep. (2)
Sleep Cycles and Brain Cleansing
During the night, we experience sleep cycles that average about 90 minutes. In the first half of the night we cycle through all of the stages, N1, N2, N3, and REM sleep. Slow wave sleep or delta sleep is N3. We start at N1 and go deeper into N2, then deeper into N3, the stage where brain cleansing occurs. (3)
Scientists who discovered the glymphatic system hope that by better understanding this process it could lead to successful treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, and other similar brain diseases. (4)