ElderLaw News-The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News
ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

The Power of Sleep

We all know how powerful and how energizing a good night’s sleep is through personal experience.

However, now there are scientific reasons for making sure you get enough sleep. Researchers now believe that sleep performs a cleansing function for the brain. While you are asleep, the brain is busily flushing toxins, thus restoring itself. It works in this way. Through the study of sleeping mice, they have found that brain cells actually shrink while the cleaning process is underway to facilitate the process. It is as if they shrink to allow more room for an invisible fluid to wash away the toxic substances that the brain collects during waking periods. What is more astounding is that one of the toxins that is flushed is linked to Alzheimer’s–the beta-amyloid protein, believed to be responsible for the formation of plaque, which coats brain cells and renders them impaired. This research was conducted at the University of Rochester under the direction of neurosurgeon Maiken Nedergaard.

Dr. Nedergaard has further learned that this fluid is part of what she and her team call the “glymphatic system.” It is a network in the body that cleanses and flushes waste from the brain. The fluid doing the cleaning is cerebrospinal fluid, which then carries the waste to the bloodstream, and then to its final destination–the liver. In the liver, the last stage of cleaning occurs. They have also discovered that this cleansing process occurs twice as rapidly in a sleeping rodent, as compared to one that is upright and active.

So now we realize why, without enough sleep, one feels disoriented, lethargic, and maybe even cranky. For rats, adequate sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity. Meeri Kim, the author of the article reviewing the study says, “Rats deprived of sleep die within weeks.” This is not true for all animal species. Elephants only require 3 hours of sleep per night, but cats sleep 12 or more hours per day. This variation among animals has puzzled scientists, but they now have an explanation for the variation. According to another neuroscientist, Suzana Herculano-Honzel, brain size may affect the amount of sleep required. Hence, larger animals like elephants require only 3 hours, humans 7-8 hours, cats 12+ hours, etc.

Dr. Nedergaard sees implications in these findings for not only Alzheimer’s, but also for such diseases as Parkinson’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy– all neurodegenerative disorders. Her team is currently working on an MRI test measuring the level/rate of glymphatic clearance. She feels that if an individual’s system does not perform this function naturally, that a drug could be developed to stimulate the process chemically. In the meantime, adequate sleep may be one way to forestall the onset of Alzheimer’s. What powerful information–and it’s all within our control!


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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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