I can’t believe I’ve only read about this today!
Studies published in 2013 revealed that our brain actually – and I mean literally – cleanses itself of toxins while we sleep. Well, with a bit of help from the cerebral spinal fluid, which flows through the brain far more actively when we’re asleep or under anaesthesia, and carries away toxins built up during waking hours.
When you think about it, it makes sense that the brain needs a process like this. After all, when you exercise hard, after a while your muscles become fatigued, right? One reason for that is that toxic byproducts of your muscle cells’ exertions are building up faster than the lymphatic system can drain them away.
Apparently a similar system – dubbed the glymphatic system – does a similar thing in mammalian brains, increasing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid up and through the brain along defined channels. Awesome!
It’s hypothesized that prolonged lack of sleep may lead to an accumulation of toxic byproducts in the brain, which might lead to earlier onset of Alzheimer’s and other neurological problems.
So: we all knew it, but now it’s clearer than ever! Sleep is important, and our body is working hard to clean our brain for us.
As Danish biologist Maiken Nedergaard said, “Sleep is such a dangerous thing to do, when you’re out in the wild, that it has to have a basic evolutionary function. Otherwise it would have been eliminated.”
I may put a bit more effort into my brain’s housework this evening, simply to celebrate this new knowledge – if you know what I mean!
My Monday looks nothing like this, but it’s a refreshing view, and I imagine a quick dip in these chill waters would be very refreshing! You certainly wouldn’t retain any wooliness in the head afterwards.
I had a strange night. It’s entirely my fault; I lay down and wasn’t disciplined enough with my thinking. “I’ll do a visualization!” I thought, imagining my body surrounded by love emanating from my heart, not remembering that such things tend to set my mind racing and keep sleep at bay. Eventually I got up, and got the midnight munchies – not a great urge if you’re trying to lose weight. About 1am I was ‘nightmare surfing’, having one nightmare and waking up gasping, falling asleep again for 4-5 minutes, then waking up … ugh. By 1:30, I’d discovered a new way to deal with recurrent nightmares: as you’re falling asleep and the nightmare begins, try to stay in a semi-sleep state and remind yourself over and over that it’s all just a dream. In this way I managed to return to sleep and stay asleep … only dreaming I was having nightmares! The mind is a wonderful thing. Still, I got another five hours of sleep, which is a positive.
Ah well, today’s a new day, and it’s a day I feel good and excited about. This week is going to be wonderful! I can just feel it.
Do you have anything exciting happening this week?
… as though your brain’s been soaked in curdled goat’s milk, run through a blender and squished back into your cranium.
It’s not really how you expect to feel on a Sunday afternoon, is it? Well, not if you’re a teetotaler like me! I remember other Sunday afternoons, many summers ago … but those are stories of days long past.
No, today I am just good old brain-dead. Tired. Spent. Exhausted. Burnt out.
I can’t give you a good reason why, either, which is annoying! OK, I didn’t sleep terribly well last night, but the rest of the day has been fairly cruisy: ironing, phone calls, catching up on some TV, visiting a relative (and forgetting to take the microwave we were passing on), sorting out my diary for the week. All quite pleasant, kindly, easy.
The temptation is to say: “Well, that’s what depressed mind/brain/body matrices do: feel tired at the drop of a hat!” and perhaps that is what’s going on. On the other hand, it could be that the various stresses of the past month have caught up with me. I don’t want to overpathologize things.
So, Dr Dysthymia Bree, what will you prescribe for yourself?
- plenty of water and some vitamin C, just in case a virus is trying to catch me unawares
- good food
- making sure that I’m prepared for tomorrow, so I can go to bed with a peaceful mind, and – of course! –
- some good, calming TV!
All good, my friends. May your Sunday be refreshing and may your brains steer clear of goat’s milk.
Even though my day is just starting (0715) I already have so much to be grateful for:
- a good night’s sleep – even untroubled by bad dreams!
- waking to find another batch of kind, supportive messages waiting for me on WordPress – yay! You’re awesome, thank you so much
- my recalcitrant medications bloke finally completed the paperwork I’ve been waiting for since, oh, about halfway through last year
- the knowledge that a friend who’s been in hospital for a while will be going home later this week! The battle’s been fought, and won
- this morning’s engagement cancelled … so I have time to work through my therbligs! Yay! And also engage in some extra, much-needed self-care …
- … and some digging! I do love digging. Great workout for most of the body, and there’s going to be the joy of a new line of creepers planted, and I think today may be the day I declare the new bed to be “open for business” after many weeks of preparation. What a wonderful feeling, to turn rocky, packed soil into a fertile growing space.
I’m continuing to work through the other big stuff which has been going on lately. It’s nice to wake up and feel normal, instead of numb (early days yet, but it’s still nice while it lasts).
When your morning rolls round (whenever that may be!) I hope you wake feeling as optimistic as I do.
Am I? Really? I didn’t feel like I was in a bad mood.
When I thought about it, though, I realized that within an hour of coming home the dearly beloved had heard a rant about our neighbours, a rant about Jana Pittman, and a rant about my ear infection.
All that certainly sounds like a bad mood, doesn’t it?
I guess sometimes we can all misjudge our emotional state – with or without a mood disorder! I didn’t feel cross, or angry, but I was certainly letting off a bit of steam.
This business of emotional states reminded me of my pre-nap cogitations this afternoon. I was trying to figure out why, exactly, I was avoiding a certain task. I braced myself emotionally, relaxed thoroughly, and dug down deep. Thing is, there was nothing to find: no deep-seated fears, beyond my usual insecurities; no links with previous traumas; no triggers. It seemed I was avoiding this task simply because … I didn’t want to do it. I felt no need to do it. There was no passion associated with it (although, in the past, it was a project I had invested a great deal of passion and energy in).
Post-nap, I got up, and did not one but two ‘chunks’ of the task. I think it was just run of the mill, depression-rooted lack of motivation which had been holding me back.
So, there you go: a bad mood I didn’t feel; a passionless reluctance to engage in my usual activities … sound familiar?
I think my black dog is nudging up against my heels.