The Power of Sleep

by Maureen E. Hook, Ph.D.

April 11, 2014
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We all know how powerful and how energizing a good night’s sleep is through personal experience. However, now there are scientific reasons for making sure you get enough sleep. Researchers now believe that sleep performs a cleansing function for the brain. While you are asleep, the brain is busily flushing toxins, thus restoring itself. It works in this way. Through the study of sleeping mice, they have found that brain cells actually shrink while the cleaning process is underway to facilitate the process. It’s as if they shrink to allow more room for an invisible fluid to wash away the toxic substances that the brain collects during waking periods. What is more astounding is that one of the toxins that is flushed is linked to Alzheimer’s–the beta-amyloid protein, believed to be responsible for the formation of plaque, which coats brain cells and renders them impaired. This research was conducted at the University of Rochester under the direction of neurosurgeon Maiken Nedergaard.
Dr. Nedergaard has further learned that actually this fluid is part of what she and her team call the “glymphatic system.” It is a network in the body that cleanses and flushes waste from the brain. The fluid doing the cleaning is cerebrospinal fluid, which then carries the waste to the bloodstream, and then to its final destination–the liver. In the liver, the last stage of cleaning occurs. They have also discovered that this cleansing process occurs twice as rapidly in a sleeping rodent, as compared to one that is upright and active.
So now we realize why, without enough sleep, one feels disoriented, lethargic, and maybe even cranky. For rats, adequate sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity. Meeri Kim, the author of the article reviewing the study says, “Rats deprived of sleep die within weeks.” This is not true for all animal species. Elephants only require 3 hours of sleep per night, but cats sleep 12 or more hours per day. This variation among animals has puzzled scientists, but they now have an explanation for the variation. According to another neuroscientist, Suzana Herculano-Honzel, brain size may affect the amount of sleep required. Hence, larger animals like elephants require only 3 hours, humans 7-8 hours, cats 12+ hours, etc.
Dr. Nedergaard sees implications in these findings for not only Alzheimer’s, but also for such diseases as Parkinson’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy– all neurodegenerative disorders. Her team is currently working on an MRI test measuring the level/rate of glymphatic clearance. She feels that if an individual’s system does not perform this function naturally, that a drug could be developed to stimulate the process chemically. In the meantime, adequate sleep may be one way to forestall the onset of Alzheimer’s. What powerful information–and it’s all within our control!
ask kitkat logoPlanning for Pets in the Long Term?
Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, how do I plan for my pet after I am gone?
Kit Kat: Well, there are several things you can do. First of all, you could contact the ASPCA (212-876-7700 ext. 4505) to send you a Pet Planning Primer. That gives you some things to think about–designating some caretakers for your pet in case of an emergency, for example. This guide is also available online at aspca.org/petplanning. You can also contact an estate planning attorney like my dad, Andrew Hook, at the Hook Law Center. Estate planning attorneys are particularly useful, because they know tax laws really well, and can advise you on the best way to structure your money. In some cases, a pet trust might be recommended. In others, it may be sufficient to designate a trusted family member with instructions how you would like your pet cared for after you are gone.
If you don’t have a family member to designate, you may want to determine if there is a local pet sanctuary who could step in and provide care. 2nd Chance 4 Pets (2ndchance4pets.org) has listings of sanctuaries all over the country. Finally, don’t confuse the ASPCA and the SPCA. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a national organization, and SPCAs are local ones. Each would require a specific designation in case of a monetary donation. Each does terrific work, but each has different roles. The ASPCA largely does advocacy and works to enact laws which protect animals. SPCAs are local entities which are charged with the care of animals in their geographic boundaries.
(“Including Animals in Your Plans for 2014,” ASPCA Action, Winter 2014, p. 16.)
UPDATE: Effective Date for Congressional Overturning of Ahlborn Extended
In January 2014, Hook Law Center reported that Congress essentially overturned the Ahlborn decision by passing the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. On April 1, 2014, President Barak Obama signed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, which, under Section 211 of the Act, extends  Section 202(c) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 for two years. This extension leads us to believe that the Senate will review the possible effects of Section 202 and determine whether Section 202 should be modified or otherwise abolished. The good news for personal injury attorneys is that they may continue to rely on Ahlborn until October 2016.
Upcoming Events

  • Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, an attorney at Hook Law Center, is a member of the advisory board of the Hampton Roads Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association. Please visit our website if you have any questions about this event on April 12, 2014.
  • Andrew Hook will be speaking at Westminster Cantebury, 3100 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA on April 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM.  For more information, please contact Westminster Cantebury at (757) 496-1100 or Hook Law Center at (757) 399-7506.
  • Andrew Hook will be speaking at the newly renovated Parsons Residential Care Center, 1005 Deep Creek Blvd., Chesapeake, VA on April 24, 2014 at 6:00 PM. For more information, please contact Parsons Residential Care Center at (757) 487-0487 or Hook Law Center at (757) 399-7506.
  • Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be attending the National Association for Medicare Set Aside (NAMSAP) Conference in Las Vegas, NV on May 8-9, 2014.
  • Andrew Hook will be speaking at the Virginia Benefits Program Organization (BPRO) Spring Conference on May 8, 2014 in Williamsburg, VA.  Mr. Hook, Natalie Hale, CECC and Jennifer Woods-Pagano, CECC will be attending the three-day conference.
  • Andrew Hook will be speaking on Financial Services Long-Term Care Insurance at the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) Conference on May 16, 2014 in Scottsdale, AZ.  Mr. Hook will be attending the two-day conference.
  • Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be speaking on Estate Planning to the Norfolk Task Force on Aging, 7211 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA on May 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM.
  • Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be speaking on Special Needs to the Norfolk Task Force on Aging, 7211 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA on June 20, 2014 at 8:30 AM.
  • Andrew Hook will be speaking on Asset Protection Planning to the Norfolk Task Force on Aging, 7211 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA on July 18, 2014 at 8:30 AM.
  • Andrew Hook will be speaking on the Affordable Care Act to the Norfolk Task Force on Aging, 7211 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA on August 15, 2014 at 8:30 AM.

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This report is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this report accurate, Hook Law Center assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information in this report.