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Garbage Men For Your Brain


September 21, 2014

brain-states-300x300New research shows a good night’s rest is not just a luxury. It is critical for our brain’s health. Revitalizing,by recouping, repairing, and regrouping is a must for a happy healthy brain. When we sleep our focus on sensory cues, like noise and smell and blinking lights, become burred then disappear. Our brains start working differently. The brain waves which were non synchronous when awake start a soothing, rising and falling melody. The avalanche of information that dropped on the brain all day was at a velocity that was overwhelming to handle in real time. During sleep, the body increases its rate of cell division and protein synthesis, further suggesting that repair and restoration occurs during sleeping periods, but also the spent metabolites of our tremendous expenditure of fuel must be discarded.

Recently, researchers have uncovered new evidence supporting the repair and restoration theory, discovering that sleep allows the brain to perform “housekeeping” duties. In an October 2013 issue of the journal Science, researchers published the results of a study indicating that the brain utilizes sleep to flush out waste products. The Brain does not have lymphatics like the rest of the body. The lymphatic system which is part of the circulatory system, comprising a network of special vessels (thin walled tubes) that carry a clear fluid with all its debris and toxins called lymph towards the heart. After much research, the glymphatic system was coined by the Danish neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard in recognition of its dependence upon the non neuronal support cells, the glia. It has the similar duty of being a clearing/cleaning system to the brain as does the lymphatics have for the rest of the body.

These previously ignored cells in the brain turn into a massive pump when the body sleeps. During the day, glial cells are the unsung personal assistants of the brain. They do not conduct electrical impulses like other neurons, but they support them in other ways. The pathway therefore consists of a juxta-arterial and now glymphatics. We have known for over a century that cerebrospinal fluid enters the brain itself, and now we defined a clearance mechanism for the removal of brain tissue expended fluid and other unhealthy molecules from the brain and spinal cord. The exchange of the material between the brain and the space between the cells is driven by arterial pulsation and regulated during sleep by the expansion and contraction of brain extracellular space.

This waste removal system, researcher suggest, is one of the major reasons why we sleep. The restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system, our brain utilizes sleep to flush out waste toxins. in the awake central nervous system, the study’s authors explain.

We are just now learning is the brain on sleep is nature’s panacea, more powerful than drugs in its ability to restore and rejuvenate the human brain and body.

The trouble is, sleep works only if we get enough of it. While plenty of pills can knock us out, none so far can replicate all of sleep’s benefits, despite decades’ worth of attempts in high-tech pharmaceutical labs.

These new insights about the role sleep plays in our overall health have brought an urgency to the message. Sleep is the only time the brain has to catch its breath. If it doesn’t, it may drown in its own biological debris–everything from toxic free radicals produced by hard-working fuel cells to spent molecules that have outlived their usefulness.

All organs in the body use energy, and in the process, they spew out waste. Most take care of their garbage with an efficient local system, recruiting immune cells like macrophages to gobble up the garbage and break it down or linking up to the network of vessels that make up the lymph system, the body’s drainage pipes. The brain is a tremendous consumer of energy, but it’s not blanketed in lymph vessels. So Thank You Lord for designing our glymphatics!

As noted Nedergaard found in clinical trials on mice that glial cells change as soon as their owners fall asleep. The difference between the waking and sleeping brain is dramatic. When the brain is awake, it resembles a busy airport, swelling with the cumulative activity of individual messages traveling from one neuron to another. The activity inflates the size of brain cells until they take up 86% of the brain’s volume.

When daylight wanes and we eventually fall asleep, however, those glial cells kick into action, slowing the brain’s electrical activity to about a third of its peak frequency. During those first stages of sleep, called non-REM (rapid eye movement), the firing becomes more synchronized rather than haphazard. The repetitive cycle lulls the nerves into a state of quiet, so in the next stage, known as REM, the firing becomes almost nonexistent. The brain continues to toggle back and forth between non-REM and REM sleep throughout the night, once every hour and a half.

At the same time, the sleeping brain’s cells shrink, making more room for the brain and spinal cord’s fluid to slosh back and forth between them. “It’s like a dishwasher that keeps flushing through to wash the dirt away,” says Nedergaard. This cleansing also occurs in the brain when we are awake, but it’s reduced by about 15%, since the glial cells have less fluid space to work with when the neurons expand.

This means that when we don’t get enough sleep, the glial cells aren’t as efficient at clearing the brain’s garbage. That may push certain degenerative brain disorders that are typical of later life to appear much earlier.

This information gives us incite as to why older brains are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s, which is caused by a buildup of amyloid protein that isn’t cleared quickly enough.

“There is much less flow to clear away things in the aging brain, The garbage system picks up every three weeks instead of every week.” And like any growing pile of trash, the molecular garbage starts to affect nearby healthy cells, interfering with their ability to form and recall memories or plan even the simplest tasks.

Sleeping pills, while helpful for some, are not necessarily a silver bullet either. “A sleeping pill will target one area of the brain, but there’s never going to be a perfect sleeping pill, because you couldn’t really replicate the different chemicals moving in and out of different parts of the brain to go through the different stages of sleep,” says Dr. Nancy Collop, director of the Emory University Sleep Center. Still, for the 4% of Americans who rely on prescription sleep aids, the slumber they get with the help of a pill is better than not sleeping at all or getting interrupted sleep. At this point, it’s not clear whether the brain completes the same crucial housekeeping duties during medicated sleep as it does during natural sleep, and the long-term effects on the brain of relying on sleeping pills aren’t known either. However, working with a natural neurotransmitter may be different. Recently, Belsomra, an orexin receptor antagonist, is the first of its kind approved for insomnia. Orexins are chemicals that are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and play a role in keeping people awake. Belsomra alters the signaling (action) of orexin in the brain.

“I am now looking at and thinking of sleep deprival as an ‘environmental exposure,’” says Brown University’s Mary Carskadon–which means we should look at sleep similarly to how we view air-pollution exposure, second hand smoke or toxins in our drinking water.

Creating a sleep ritual can make sleep something we look forward to rather than something we feel obligated to do, so we’re more likely to get our allotted time instead of skipping it. A favorite book, a warm bath or other ways to get drowsy might prompt us to actually look forward to unwinding at the end of the day. Then a cool, dark, quiet room in which to carry out the garbage and
refresh your mind and soul!

Related Article: Belsomra




September 14, 2014


Dulces Sueños! It is about time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new non-benzo sleeping pill. But, Belsomra is a controlled substance (Schedule-IV) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. The drug, Belsomra (suvorexant) will be used as needed to treat difficulty in falling and staying asleep (insomnia).

Belsomra is an orexin receptor antagonist and is the first of its kind approved for insomnia. Orexins are chemicals that are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and play a role in keeping people awake. Belsomra alters the signaling (action) of orexin in the brain.

Insomnia is a common condition in which a person has trouble falling or staying asleep. It can range from mild to severe, depending on how often it occurs and for how long. Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and lack of energy. It also can make a person feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. People with insomnia may have trouble with attentiveness, learning, and memory.

It is approved Belsomra in four different strengths – 5, 10, 15, and 20 milligrams and can be split in half. Using the lowest effective dose can reduce the risk of side effects, such as next-morning drowsiness. Belsomra should be taken no more than once per night, within 30 minutes of going to bed, with at least seven hours remaining before the planned time of waking. The total dose should not exceed 20 mg once daily.

The most commonly reported adverse reaction reported by clinical trial participants taking Belsomra was drowsiness. Medications that treat insomnia can cause next-day drowsiness and impair driving and other activities that require alertness. People can be impaired even when they feel fully awake.

The effectiveness of Belsomra was studied in three clinical trials involving more than 500 participants. In the studies, patients taking the drug fell asleep faster and spent less time awake during the remainder of the night compared to people taking an inactive pill (placebo). Belsomra was not compared to other drugs approved to treat insomnia, so it is not known if there are differences in safety or effectiveness between Belsomra and similar medications.

Like other sleep medicines, there is a risk from Belsomra of sleep-driving and other complex behaviors while not being fully awake, such as preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex. Chances of such activity increase if a person has consumed alcohol or taken other medicines that make them sleepy. Patients or their families should call the prescribing health care professional if this type of activity occurs.

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