Everyone needs a good sleep, but not everyone gets it.
We find that getting a good sleep becomes more of a desire than a reality as we age.
This is because sleep becomes increasingly lighter and more disrupted as we get older.
However, amidst this challenge, getting a good one, the deep sleep, as it is referred to, is essential.
The Deeper The Sleep, The Better
A new research by the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), emphasised the importance.
It suggests that how deep it is can affect our brain’s ability to efficiently wash away waste and toxic proteins.
Maiken Nedergaard, codirector in the centre, is the lead author of the study that has brought an insight into why we need the deep one.
It was published on the journal Science Advances.
The study gives further insight into the link between aging and heightened risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Sleep is critical to the function of the brain’s waste removal system and this study shows that the deeper the sleep the better,” Nedergaard says.
“These findings also add to the increasingly clear evidence that quality of sleep or sleep deprivation can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), “the study indicates that the slow and steady brain and cardiopulmonary activity associated with deep non-REM sleep are optimal for the function of the glymphatic system”
The glymphatic systemis the brain’s unique process of removing waste.
How Deep Sleep Washes Away Waste
An earlier study in 2012 was a foundation for Nedergaard and her colleagues.
The study revealed a system of plumbing which piggybacks on blood vessels. This further pumps Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) through brain tissue to wash away waste.
A subsequent study showed that this system primarily works while we sleep.
The accumulation of toxic proteins such as beta amyloid and tau in the brain are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of this, researchers have speculated that impairment of the glymphatic system due to disrupted sleep could be a driver of the disease.
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“This squares with clinical observations which show an association between sleep deprivation and heightened risk for Alzheimer’s,” the WEF wrote.
In the current study, researchers conducted experiments with mice anesthetized with six different anesthetic regimens.
The research conducted on the animals, which were under anesthesia, tracked brain electrical activity and cardiovascular activity.
It also tracked the cleansing flow of CSF through the brain.
The researchers observed that a combination of the drugs ketamine and xylazine (K/X) most closely replicated the slow and steady electrical activity in the brain.
They said this also slowed heart rate associated with deep non-REM sleep.
Furthermore, the electrical activity in the brains of mice administered K/X appeared to be optimal for function of the glymphatic system.
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“The synchronised waves of neural activity during deep slow-wave sleep, specifically firing patterns that move from front of the brain to the back, coincide with what we know about the flow of CSF in the glymphatic system,” a postdoctoral associate in Nedergaard’s lab and first author of the study, Lauren Hablitz, said.
“It appears that the chemicals involved in the firing of neurons, namely ions, drive a process of osmosis which helps pull the fluid through brain tissue.”
Link Between Sleep, Aging And Alzheimer’s Disease
The study raises several important clinical questions.
It further bolsters the link between sleep, aging, and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to researchers, as we age it becomes more difficult to consistently achieve deep non-REM sleep.
However, this study reinforces the importance of deep sleep to the proper function of the glymphatic system.
The study also demonstrates that enhancing sleep can manipulate the glymphatic system.
This is a finding that may point to potential clinical approaches such as sleep therapy.
It will also become a link to other methods that could boost the quality of sleep, for population at risk.