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The Glymphatic System

I have recently heard of an entirely new body system that science only discovered in the past 10 or so years.  It’s called the Glymphatic System.  Similar,  to the lymphatic system that removes excess toxins from the body, however this one is for our brain.  And what is so incredible is that this system will ONLY WORK WHEN WE SLEEP!!

It is the waste removal that connects arteries in the brain to veins in brain. Studies show that missing just one night’s sleep leaves a build up of dangerous proteins in the brain that are the precursor to Alzheimer’s.  If you slept and brains still feels foggy it may be because there are still excess toxins and you didn’t get the deep REM sleep where Glymphatic operates.  Just 6 hours of deep sleep will reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by 30%.

Research has shown that side sleeping is best and propped up in a bed is the worst. High blood sugar slows the glymphatic system by 2-3 times as the brain does not have an insulin resistant switch (neither do eyes) because if it did, the brain could shut down in times of high sugar intake. Our deepest sleep is midnight so we should aim to go to bed by 10.  Caffeine and aspirin block deep sleep.  Aspirin preserves half life of caffeine and also blocks the prostaglandins in the inflammatory process but these help us reach deep sleep.

Gut Health

Sleep is a huge influencer in the way the gut functions. This is turn affects our skin, because as we know, what we see on the surface is a direct reflection of what is happening inside.

Sleep is essential for commensal bacteria as it increases melatonin and serotonin, which support good bacteria.  These microbial metabolites have the ability to signal the brain via the endocrine and reach neuro cells that reside in digestive tract.  90% of our serotonin is made in our gut.  So without good sleep, we don’t make sleep hormones to get the good sleep which keep our gut happy and finally our skin happy.

Skin Health

Cells repair during sleep.  A UK study on sleep deprivation measure the difference in skin between 8 hours and 6 and found 45% had more fine lines, 13% more blemishes and more redness. (AACDS).  During the day our skin is defending itself from environmental factors and at night it is rebuilding and eliminating toxins. As levels of adrenaline drop, the body begins producing the human growth hormone –somatrophin, which amongst many other important functions it will repair skin. During undisturbed sleep somatropin is found to be at its highest level.   Our circulation is also increased so blood flow into the skin is boosted and Enzyme production is at its best.  Excess water in the body is processed for removal which is why we see puffy eyes when we are sleep deprived.

Blood Sugar

Short sleep is linked to type 2 diabetes as sleep reduces glycose turnover and insulin secretion.  Lack of sleep and late nights stress our body.  When our body is stressed cortisol increases. Cortisol peaks our blood sugar levels, which eventually leads to insulin resistance, muscle loss and weight gain.  Cortisol is responsible for breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid and for many inflammatory diseases throughout our body.  Inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis are all worsened by cortisol. Short sleep also elevates cytokines which affect sensitivity of fat, muscle and liver cells to bind insulin and therefore impair glucose uptake in blood.  The more cykotines, the more influence.  Curcuma longa is a proven cykotine inhibitor.


Sleep disturbances can impact hormonal production. Eg leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is responsible to regulate appetite and ghrelin sends messages to brain when to eat. Lack of sleep imbalances these two hormones triggering the wrong times to eat confusing our circadium rhythm and our digestive system leading to obesity.  Our circadian rhythm is our sleep wake cycle that actually drives the rhythm of all biological activities at a cellular level.  We know as we age we begin to lose this rhythm.  Monthly Hormonal shifts and spikes can affect our circadian rhythm. Pregnancy, obesity, hot sweats, stress, anxiety, depression can all affect our sleep/wake cycle.  When our circadian rhythm is out of balance our cortisol and melatonin gets mixed up.  We should have high cortisol in the morning to start the day and high melatonin in the evening to make us sleepy. Blue light from TV suppresses effect of melatonin production.

In addition to our circadian rhythm we also have another process designed to help us sleep. When we are awake the brain makes a nucleoside called adenosine.  This is by product of brains metabolic process and is seen as bio marker for sleepiness. It binds to specific cells to slow activity and cause sleepiness. Once a certain threshold is bound sleep occurs.

Brain function

Sleep is essential for our cognitive function and brain health.  Less than 6 hours sleep per night is the equivalent to a blood alcohol reading of .05%.


We are known for their calming properties.

Cherries are a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Magnesium–  Almonds and spinach are rich in magnesium which is known for promoting sleep and relaxing muscles.

A high protein snack a few hours before bed may also help as it can provide the l-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production.

Caffeine and spicy foods are linked with taking longer to fall asleep.

Stop eating – 3 hours before bedtime to optimise your mitochondrial function and it will lower blood sugar levels, jump start the glycogen depletion process so you can switch to fat burning mode.

Temperature can regulate sleep.  Our body’s heat distribution system is linked to sleep cycle. Even lying done induces sleepiness as your body drops to lowest levels after 4 hours after lying down. Scientists believe a cooler room may then be conducive to sleep since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.  So taking a warm bath 1.5-2 hours before bed can help as it increases core body temperature so when it abruptly drops it can signal your body you are ready for sleep.

Avoid watching to or using the computer 1 hour before bed because they omit blue light which tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime.  Your brain begins to secrete melatonin between 9-10 pm and the blue light can stifle this process.

Sun-Make sure you get bright sun exposure regularly.  Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly proportionate to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and the complete darkness at night. (So darkness all day would not optimise your melatonin production.

Move your phone– Head should be away from phone on charge and put in flight mode so not sending out radio waves looking for a signal. Radiation nation- in poor reception areas your phone is working harder.  Every foot the phone is away from you the impact of signal halves.


 Cell communicators: Retinol, peptides, carnosine, minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc

Restoring: Hyaluronic Acid, ceramides, Peptides and amino acids

Anti inflammatory and antioxidants such as resveratrol, niacinamide, arnica, chamomile, Essential fatty acids

Probiotics to help restore flora levels such as yeast extract







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