Researchers have just discovered another essential reason for the value of regular sleep. I call it the brain sewage system (BSS). Scientists named it the glymphatic system.
When our brains exit the real world and go into sleep cycles, fluids between nerve cells expand forcing out waste products into a conduit-like tunnel that exits down both sides of the neck. There are two main transportation routes to and from the brain. They are called the carotid arteries and the jugular veins. Arteries carry oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. Jugulars get rid of worn out proteins and other garbage. Those waste products get sent down to the liver and kidneys for processing.
Sleep is the equivalent of using a high pressured hose to rid your home exterior of dirt, fungus and whatever attached to the siding. In the case of the brain, we have a collection of abnormal proteins that build up daily. So we end up taking out the garbage every night while we are checking-in with Mr. Sandman.
The brain weighs about three pounds. With normal daily sleep, the BSS gets rid of that equivalent poundage over 1 year. This is mainly in the form of abnormal protein trash.
If garbage in the brain is left behind, the accumulation becomes toxic. This will lead to dementia by clogging up both the inside and outside of the brain’s cells. Dementia goes by many different names depending on the involvement of what specific toxic agent(s). Most well-known is Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, Lewy body, etc. This occurs over a duration of decades of low quality sleepy time.
So the answer to lowering the risk of dementia is with proper daily sleep. This means a hibernation that is long enough, deep enough and having the proper waves (alpha, delta and REM (Rapid Eye Movement)) for relaxation and dreaming. You should wake up feeling refreshed.
Another essential reason for sleep is the brain determining what memories are a priority to store and archive.
The brain is like a huge rapidly growing tree. While awake, memories made, are like the growth of new tree branches. During sleep, the brain considers what growth during the waking day to be “important” or “not”. The “not” gets pared back just as you would trim the tree branches that were unnecessary. This way, the tree remains vibrant and healthy. Just as the brain continues to pack away only the memories it values as novel memories in long-term storage for future retrieval. Dreaming is the unconscious result of the consolidation process for ongoing saved memories from the present and past.
So sleep is not just a waste of time. It allows the body to prepare for your next awakening. Your nightly mental shower consolidates, cleans and gets into ready mode for the absorption of new memories. It also allows in nutrients like amino acids, sugars, antioxidants, etc.to supercharge this 3 pound chunk of mass into the ultimate supercomputer.
Note: You can Google glymphatic system to understand its meaning. My name for it is BSS, which you will not find on Google.