“We need sleep. It cleans up the brain”

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A good night’s rest may literally clear the mind. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. These results suggest a new role for sleep in health and disease…

“Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state,” said Maiken Nedergaard…a leader of the study.

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have wondered why people sleep and how it affects the brain. Only recently have scientists shown that sleep is important for storing memories. In this study, Dr. Nedergaard and her colleagues unexpectedly found that sleep may be also be the period when the brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules.

Their results, published in Science, show that during sleep a “plumbing” system, called the glymphatic system, may open, letting fluid flow rapidly through brain. Dr. Nedergaard’s lab recently discovered the glymphatic system helps control whether cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, flows through the brain.

“It’s as if Dr. Nedergaard and her colleagues have uncovered a network of hidden caves and these exciting results highlight the potential importance of the network in normal brain function,” said Roderick Corriveau, Ph.D….

The results may also highlight the importance of sleep…“We need sleep. It cleans up the brain,” said Dr. Nedergaard.

RTFA for details of testing and discovery. Sleep studies, the rate of expansion of specialized testing and treatment of ailments like sleep apnea surprise and please me. When I did the testing – nine years ago – that resulted in my CPAP sleeping gear I had to drive fifty miles for the overnight hookup. Now, I can send folks who ask me about treatment to a few local choices.

As treatment and experience accumulate a body of data, more and better treatment continues to develop. Science and healthcare have another avenue opened to improve life.

Men eating processed meat have low number of normal sperm

Processed meats — hot dogs, bacon, ham, hamburger — are linked to lower amounts of normal sperm in men, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Myriam Afeiche of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues said men in sub-fertile couples presenting for evaluation at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center were invited to participate in an ongoing study of environmental factors and fertility…

The study found the men who regularly ate processed meat had the lowest amount of normal sperm, compared to the men who ate limited amounts of processed meat. Men who ate the equivalent of less than a serving of of bacon a day had 30 percent more normal sperm than those who ate higher amounts of processed meats, the study said.

However, the men who ate white meat fish — cod, halibut — were associated with higher amounts of normal sperm. In addition, eating dark meat fish — salmon, bluefish, tuna — was related to higher total sperm count, the study said.

Does this mean we should encourage Tea Party types to enter hot dog eating contests. And train a lot.

Stylish power napping

Power napping is a bit of an art form, requiring just the right ingredients to make it possible. The Ostrich Pillow Light, the third product in the Ostrich Pillow line, is designed to simplify the process by helping sleepyheads grab 40 winks anytime that their eyelids begin to sag.

The original Ostrich Pillow was a phenomenon when it was revealed, receiving a slew of press coverage. Then it was launched on Kickstarter and raised almost $200,000. Buoyed by that success the team at Studio Banana Things launched the Ostrich Pillow Junior for children. Can lightning strike a third time with the Ostrich Pillow Light?

While the original and junior versions of the Ostrich Pillow comprised of balaclava-style headwear you placed your head and hands into, the Ostrich Pillow Light adopts a more minimalist approach.

The Ostrich Pillow Light is made from soft fabric filled with silicon-coated micro-beads. The addition of an adjustable elastic ring means it can be tailored to suit an individual regardless of their head size.

The smaller design means the Ostrich Pillow Light is travel-friendly and can be carried easily. It can be worn as a scarf, tied to a bag, or packed flat in luggage until it needs to be used, at which point it is worn over the eyes and ears, blocking out light and noise from the world around you.

I’ve always been pretty good at near-instant unconsciousness. I love that this now is elevated by a term like “power napping”. Used to just call it “crapping out”.