While we’ve known for a while that sleep is a restorative time for our bodies, a recent study completed at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that there is a particular restorative process at work in the brain. During sleep, our brain cells shrink down to about 60% of their size when we are waking. Then the brain’s cleansing system, known to scientists as the glymphatic system, gets to work washing out the gunk from the day with all the extra space. Fluids can more more easily when the cells shrink during sleep, allowing this system to remove waste products and the proteins that cause Alzheimer’s and neurogenerative disorders. The brain uses as much energy while you are sleeping, and while you are waking. This is likely because even though you are unconscious, the brain is still active- consolidating memories from the day, recharging cells, and taking out the cellular trash. So why does this only happen when you’re sleeping? Time magazine quoted researcher Nedergaard describing the brain as a house party, “You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.” And without a good mix of both, you’re not going to be able to keep doing either for very long. So there you have it, your excuse to sleep in this weekend. Happy Friday!