You need your sleep. Really.

We talked a bit about the “glymphatic” system in the brain in class a while ago – and I wanted to share the TED talk I mentioned here, because it’s super interesting and super important. It’s sparked a flurry of research activity around the connections between lack of sleep and certain diseases, such as Alzheimer disease.  As Jeff Iliff explains, it turns out that while we sleep, the brain is not just sitting there doing nothing. Something very important happens in the brain during sleep – and it does not happen during waking hours.

The brain does more than clean itself during sleep, though. We know a TON more about sleep than we did even a few years ago – even about things that seem as incomprehensible as why we dream (fascinating!!).

Matthew Walker is one of the biggest names in sleep research, and his most recent book, “Why We Sleep,” is an easy and fun read (the audiobook is also excellent).

Or, for a more condensed version of his research, check out his conversation with Joe Rogan:

Lots of interesting facts, way beyond the typical “turn your phone off an hour before bed” stuff. For example: the World Health Organization has classified shift work as a probable carcinogen, based on the overwhelming research evidence that insufficient sleep is linked to significantly increased risk of certain types of cancer (colon, prostate, and breast). Yikes.

Here’s a really short video he put together that sort of summarizes all the bad things that happen if you don’t get enough sleep:

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