Clean Sleeping: 2017’s newest fad. Or is it?
Every year seems to bring along another health trend. Whether it's superfoods, juicing, or as we saw last year, clean eating. Quite often the concepts behind these trends make sense: try to eat more healthily, cut down on junk food and processed sugar, increase your veg intake by blending five different kinds into one drink.
But alongside these decent concepts often comes a short-lived fascination with following these doctrines, and then later forgetting all about it to take on the next Thing.
But this year might be different. The biggest health trend of 2017 looks set to be the notion of clean sleeping. Now, you might be rolling your eyes already, but bear with me. Although there will be those that Instagram every element of their sleep routine for the whole of January and then slip back into their old habits by Valentine's Day, there really is something to be said for the clean sleeping bandwagon.
Research conducted in 2014 by Dutch scientist Maiken Nedergaard used anaesthetised mice to investigate the brain's 'cleaning system'.* This is similar to the lymphatic system that gets rid of toxins in the rest of the body. It's essential to make sure day-to-day toxins that are generated through normal cell processes don't build up and negatively affect the body. The brain needs the same thing, and Dr. Nedergaard's research showed that the brain's cleaning system during waking hours was only 5% of the size that it reached during sleeping hours. In other words, the essential clean up that the brain needs to fight degeneration works hugely better when you're sleeping.
Now, this is still relatively new research, and as such investigations into the effects of sleep on degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer's are still ongoing. However, making sure that you get the recommended amount of sleep for your age group - for adults that is between 7 and 9 hours per night - and remembering that everyone is different, and will have different sleep needs, can go a long way to making sure you keep both your body and your brain healthy.
Despite the annoying social media boasting of those few that insist on bragging about their health initiatives, clean sleeping really does sound like a good idea, doesn't it?
•Read more about Dr. Nedergaard's research in this article from the New York Times.