In celebration of Sleep Awareness Week (April 23–29), MyFitnessPal and Thrive Global collaborated to bring you this science-backed sleep advice.
It’s not the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll that’s going to kill you, Keith Richards is proof of that. Surprisingly, the factor which is going to affect the longevity and quality of your life the most is sleep. That’s right, that thing you try to catch up on. The thing you typically sacrifice first when you have a project that needs to get done. Those precious minutes you decide to keep your eyes open are the same thing that keeps them shut forever. Think I’m being melodramatic?
A new study by Maiken Nedergaard and her colleagues at the University of Rochester illustrates that sleep relaxes the channels in our brain which help ‘wash out’ unwanted waste and proteins. Just as the lymphatic system clears out metabolic waste products from the rest of the body, this system transports waste-laden cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In the study, it showed channels moving the CSF grew 60% in size while mice slept allowing neurotoxins to be moved out of the brain more quickly and with more efficiency than with less sleep. Here’s why this matters: Many neurological diseases from Alzheimer’s to stroke and dementia are associated with sleep disturbances. The study suggests a lack of sleep plays a role by allowing the byproducts to build up and cause brain damage.
Aside from just feeling better after a good night’s sleep there’s an added bonus: Sleep has been shown to help you shed fat (especially that pudge around the belly), fight off heart disease, maintain a clear mind and optimize every function of your body. Sleep is essential for everyone from the elite athlete to the corporate warrior.