Detoxing is all the rage these days. Everyone’s got a detox for your gut or for your skin, but new research is showing that sleep may be the best detox for your brain. REM sleep is a valuable tool in resting and revitalizing our bodies, but science is finding that it may not be the most important part of our sleep cycle. A recent study found that slow-wave sleep or SWS, the deepest phase of sleep, is the most important key to detoxing our brains and getting us ready to tackle a new day. During SWS, blood volume decreases and that space is filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which plays a vital role in ridding us of the toxic waste in our brains that can cause neurodegeneration. Think of it as your brain’s “wash and rinse cycle.” The cerebrospinal fluid “starts to flow upwards in these really large, slow waves…much larger than we’d ever seen when we’re scanning the awake brain,” says study senior author Laura Lewis of Boston University. This cycle happens every 20 seconds during the SWS cycle and carries toxins out of the brain to be disposed of as we sleep. Scientists knew previously that sleep plays a role in cleaning the brain for the next day, but they weren’t sure how. Now they’re beginning to get an understanding of just how important sleep can be in helping our brains combat neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. One thing we know for sure is most Americans are not getting enough of it. The CDC reports that at least a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
Sleeping less than the recommended amounts can lead to an increased risk of developing health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental disorders. Here are just a few tips to help you get started sleeping soundly:
- Adjust your circadian rhythms. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. Doing this will help improve your energy levels during the day, as well as build good sleep habits at night.
- Reduce exposure to electronics at night. The blue light from electronic devices have been proven to interfere with circadian rhythms and cause poor sleep.
- Cut caffeine consumption. Caffeine stays in your blood for six to eight hours. Reducing or eliminating caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening can help your body relax into sleep much more easily.
- Make your bedroom a haven of rest. Having comfortable bedding, soft lighting, and ambient noise can all help to make your bedroom a place your body knows is for relaxation and sleep.
- Utilize your BrainTap! For us, this is an obvious one. BrainTap users report that they not only fall asleep faster and easier, but they stay asleep longer and have better quality sleep. This allows your body to get into SWS to detox for the upcoming day. Our BrainTap Pro App also offers several audio series dedicated to helping you get good, quality sleep by training your brain and body to relax into the deepest possible sleep for you.