news - November 2019
The brain waves generated during deep sleep appear to trigger an amazing cleaning system.
By Douglas Weinstein
On October 31st, Science published a research study from Boston University that suggests that while we sleep, something totally amazing is happening to our brains. First, your neurons will go quiet and then blood will flow out of your head. Then, a watery liquid – called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) - will flow in and wash through your brain in rhythmic, pulsing waves.
"We've known for a while that there are these electrical waves of activity in the neurons," says study coauthor Laura Lewis, a BU College of Engineering assistant professor of biomedical engineering and a Center for Systems Neuroscience faculty member. "But before now, we didn't realize that there are actually waves in the CSF, too."
Earlier studies have suggested that this slow-wave activity of CSF helps to flush toxic, memory-impairing proteins from the brain. It appears that these processes might be tied together and nature’s (the evolutionary process) way of cleaning out our heads every night.
Backing these new research studies are advances in sleep sciences in general. The bottom line is that it can be scientifically demonstrated that the human body needs eight solid hours of sleep each night for a myriad of reasons – not the least, to clean our heads out.
And there is correlating studies that suggests a lack of sleep on a continual basis leads to early forms of dementia. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the presence of senile plaques. The core of the plaque consists of beta-amyloid protein – the very protein not being cleansed out of the brain on a regular basis.
The brain waves generated during deep sleep appear to trigger this amazing cleaning system in the brain that protects it against Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. So getting a good night’s sleep is pretty damn important.
So, you’re sitting there wondering, what has this got to do with TD?
Glad you asked!
As I looked into this research study (I’m a science geek, I’ll admit it) I also ran some parallel searches on the best methodologies of getting a good night’s sleep. Actually, strike that – a great night’s sleep. And there are some amazing technologies being developed in bed and mattress design that are gaining acceptance based on scientific research and development.
Which begs the question – if we are concerned with biophilic design, controlling natural and artificial lighting that mimics our circadian rhythm, then engineering our bedrooms for clean air, sound control, and thermal properties leads to the logical extension – a technologically superior sleep platform; isn’t that the next logical extension of technology that can improve our daily life?
We’ve identified several interesting platforms and are doing our due diligence. We’ll be exploring and explaining this in a deeper dive in the Fall issue of the magazine. And moving forward, we’ll be keeping an eye out of how technology and furniture design are merging. In the meantime, get a good night’s sleep tonight and wash your brain.