SHA Magazine Health & Beauty

Cellular repair: the ultimate ally of deep sleep

SHA Magazine
March 18, 2024

Many things happen while we sleep, and not all of them have been discovered, others are under study, but there is growing scientific evidence that cell repair occurring while we sleep is vital for survival, performance and longevity.

Sleep is a seemingly passive activity, but it is actually a key moment for the health and well-being of the human body. Sleep is more than just a period of rest, it triggers a series of biological processes that are essential for cellular repair and maintenance. Cellular repair is among the most novel of these processes.

Every night, while we sleep, our body enters a state of active rest during which numerous repair and renewal activities take place at the cellular level. This process is critical for maintaining the balance and optimal health of all systems in the human body.

Cell repair that occurs during sleep is a complex process involving different cell types and biological mechanisms. One of the main functions of this process is to repair the damage accumulated during the day.

The cells are subjected to oxidative stress and molecular damage as a result of exposure to environmental toxins, free radicals, and other stressors. During sleep, the cells have the opportunity to repair this damage and restore their normal functionality.

While we sleep, the process of elimination of metabolic waste and toxins from the brain takes place. The glymphatic system, a network of lymphatic vessels in the brain, is activated during sleep to remove accumulated waste, including beta-amyloid proteins associated with the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. This brain cleaning is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and preventing cognitive decline.

Dr. Bello, an expert in sleep medicine at SHA Wellness Clinic, explains that it was recently discovered that the nervous system has a kind of lymphatic system that cleans the brain of toxins, debris, and so on. “But the reality is that this cleaning system, which is like the brain taking out the rubbish every night, only works during the deepest phase of sleep, the REM phase when rapid eye movements occur.”

During this clean-up,” continues Dr Bello, “the brain cleans the cerebrospinal fluid of the Tau protein, the protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that people who have been sleep deprived have a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s“.

Dr Bello mentions another trial with students at Harvard University that found that sleep regularity (going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day) was a predictor of good academic performance. “Quality sleep is very important for memory retention. During sleep, the acquired short-term memory is converted into long-term memory. If one does not sleep well, forgetfulness and learning difficulties begin“.

“Recently, it was also discovered that we need sleep in order to function well metabolically. Sleep deprivation affects testosterone production and reproductive capacity in both men and women. Sleep also stabilises the immune system and even regulates genes to reduce the risk of cancer. The REM phase of sleep is intimately related to the self-regulation of emotions, both to resetting the system and to reducing the intensity of anxiety and fear,” explains the doctor.

The cell restoration process that occurs during sleep is complex and is still under investigation, but already there is evidence that it is vital for human survival. However, many people still do not give sleep the importance it deserves. “Sometimes it is difficult to make people understand that lack of sleep is serious, that it shortens life and causes illness. And, if we do not succeed, people will continue not prioritising sleep, not switching off, and not being disciplined enough to stop looking at their mobile phones at nine o’clock in the evening. Lifestyle changes are difficult to achieve,” reflects the doctor.

Based on his experience, the expert assures that someone who suffers from chronic sleep deprivation does not know what a good night’s sleep is. And not having experienced it means not having a reference for how restful sleep can change one’s life. The lack of motivation comes from ignorance, from not knowing what they are missing.




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