Scientists and philosophers have asked the question, “Why do we sleep?”, for centuries. From an evolutionary standpoint, it seems somewhat dangerous to sleep – a saber-toothed tiger could have eaten you while you slumbered. So there must be some very good reason for sleep to occur, leaving us in such a vulnerable state.
New research may now hold a clue as to why we sleep. Scientists at the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke have determined that the brain gets a washing (similar to running a dishwasher), cleaning out toxins while we sleep. It appears that more spinal fluid flows through the brain while we are sleeping, then while we are awake. This spinal fluid collects and flushes away toxic debris.
These new findings have potential to help in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. You can read more about this study on NPR, “Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep”. In the mean time, do your brain a favor and get 7-8 hours of sleep a night to ensure that it has time to be properly cleaned.