"Sleep Has to Have a Basic Evolutional Function [or] it would have been eliminated."

#Science

Tue, Jan 14th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

While we're aware that sleep is important for retaining memories, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a Danish biologist who "has been leading research into sleep function at the University of Rochester’s medical school," argues that it "hardly seems enough to risk death-by-leopard-in-the-night. 'If sleep was just to remember what you did yesterday, that wouldn’t be important enough,' Dr. Nedergaard explains."

Recall what happens to your body during exercise. You start off full of energy, but soon enough your breathing turns uneven, your muscles tire, and your stamina runs its course. What’s happening internally is that your body isn’t able to deliver oxygen quickly enough to each muscle that needs it and instead creates needed energy anaerobically. And while that process allows you to keep on going, a side effect is the accumulation of toxic byproducts in your muscle cells. Those byproducts are cleared out by the body’s lymphatic system, allowing you to resume normal function without any permanent damage.

The lymphatic system serves as the body’s custodian: Whenever waste is formed, it sweeps it clean. The brain, however, is outside its reach — despite the fact that your brain uses up about 20 percent of your body’s energy. How, then, does its waste — like beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease — get cleared? What happens to all the wrappers and leftovers that litter the room after any mental workout?

“Think about a fish tank,” says Dr. Nedergaard. “If you have a tank and no filter, the fish will eventually die. So, how do the brain cells get rid of their waste? Where is their filter?”

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