What happens in our brain when we sleep?

Weekends are usually for most people those days where they can give themselves permission to get up a little later, to have fun, among other things that during the week they usually do not or can not do, especially rest, and this is usually done by sleeping more hours than usual, even taking that nap that weekdays can not.

And it is true, when we sleep at night properly we wake up with a renewed mental capacity, it is easier for our mind to process information, memorized, analyze, think, and do any other activity that at night after a day of work is not so easy, have you ever wondered why, what happens in our brain to have that change?

The truth is that there is something in particular that happens in our brain when we sleep and rest, and that is the reason why it "revitalizes", and we feel much better. I invite you to keep reading if you want to know what happens, what I have to tell you will surely interest you.

Pixabay/ Author: anaterate

If we ask ourselves what is the function of sleep, beyond resting, this is still the subject of debate among scientists, but it is believed to have several health benefits, in which I can mention:

  • The consolidation of memory, learning and cognitive performance in general.
  • Regulation of body temperature and circadian rhythm.
  • Repair and regeneration of body tissues and cells.
  • Regulation of hormone levels.

But something really wonderful happens in the brain, which is particularly very interesting, and that is what I want to tell you in this post in more detail. Because obviously it is when we rest that the muscles rest from a strenuous physical activity, for example. But in the brain the process is incredible. Let's detail it below.

Pixabay/ Author: geralt

Let's keep in mind that the brain is the organ of the body that has the highest energy demand, the reasons for this are simple, it is responsible for coordinating absolutely all the functions of the body, even without us being aware of most of these functions.

So the metabolic rate is really very high. Brain metabolism refers to the set of chemical and bioenergetic processes that occur in the brain and are necessary for its proper functioning. These processes include the production of energy from nutrients, the synthesis of proteins and neurotransmitters, and the regulation of cellular and hormonal functions.

When we sleep all this metabolic activity decreases, however, the wastes from all these metabolic processes remain there, hindering proper functioning, but there is a system that takes care of them, eliminating them and leaving the brain ready to function better the next day.

Pixabay/ Author: PublicDomainPictures

To understand this system, let us remember that the brain and the entire nervous system is composed of neurons, which are specialized cells, but there are also other cells that are responsible for maintaining the structure of the nervous tissue, these are known as glial cells.

There is also a system that was recently discovered within the nervous system, which is called the Glymphatic System. This is responsible for clearing metabolic waste from the brain by circulating cerebrospinal fluid through the brain ventricles and extracellular space.

This is really a new area of study, but it is known that this system is especially important during sleep and that its dysfunction may contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Studies also suggest that the glymphatic system also plays an important role in the regulation of inflammation and metabolic homeostasis in the brain.

This system is of particular importance today in view of the fact that the accumulation of specific metabolic wastes is thought to be implicated in the onset of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as:

tau and beta-amyloid proteins, which are implicated in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Pixabay/ Author: geralt

Okay, but this is still impressive to me, and that's why I wanted to share it. However, that's not all. The process is actually much more intriguing, I will tell you part of the process:

  • When we fall asleep, after a day of hard work, of using the brain in all possibilities, waste accumulates between one neuron and another, whereby there is also cerebrospinal fluid, consider this as very crystalline and clean water.

  • Well, in the process of sleep the neurons tend to decrease in size, and this may seem strange, but the reality is that this decrease in size allows the space between one cell and another, which is where metabolic wastes are stored, to be larger, and these wastes can be carried away by the cerebrospinal fluid much easier to the areas where it will be "purified".

  • Thus, once we wake up, we feel that our mind works better, and it is logical, since it only works thanks to the good communication between neurons, and this is optimal when there are no wastes that interrupt or limit their communication.

The same thing that happens when we want to move from one place to another and there are obstacles, it will be much faster and easier to move if we have nothing that limits our mobility.

Pixabay/ Author: claudio_scott

It is important to consider that this whole glymphatic system is being highly investigated, because it is assumed that a dysfunction in it is what causes chronic accumulation of certain diseases over time.

Also understanding and knowing this process allows us to see and understand why when we do not sleep continuously or we do it for very few hours we wake up still tired and with a mind that does not work optimally. And it is basically because the system that is in charge of "collecting the metabolic waste " did not have enough time to do its job, of course, said this in a very simple way.

I hope the information in this publication is clear, the idea is to make you see that even when we sleep our body is still actively working, in this case, the brain cleaning itself to then, at dawn, function optimally.

If you have something to add you can leave it in the comments, and thus, we all benefit.

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