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Does new mouse study undermine belief sleep clears more brain toxins?

A long-held belief about the importance of sleep has recently come under scrutiny, with a new study challenging the notion that our brains do a better job of flushing out waste when we're asleep. However, researchers say more work is still needed to fully understand how our brain's cleaning system functions.

It's well established that sleep plays a key role in brain and keeping cognitive functions sharp. Part of this is thought to involve the glymphatic system, which acts as a kind of plumbing to drain harmful byproducts of neural activity. Past using mice hinted this system operates in overdrive at night, perhaps explaining sleep's restorative powers.

The new work from UK scientists calls this assumption into question. Their findings, utilizing tracer dyes in mice, indicate less fluid movement out of the brain areas studied during sleep and anesthesia compared to wakefulness. This could mean the glymphatic system clears less toxicity when we snooze.

However, several factors make drawing firm conclusions difficult. Mice aren't always predictive of human physiology, and stress from brief sleep deprivation may have impacted results. Additionally, cleaning efficiency may depend on myriad contextual factors like sleep quality or medical conditions affecting flow.

With so many open questions, further investigation is still sorely needed. And while this single study sows seeds of doubt, other evidence still links insufficient rest to cognitive decline and brain diseases involving protein buildups like Alzheimer's. So quality shuteye remains vital to brain health regardless of exactly how cleaning works each hour.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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