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Healthy Sleep: A Possible Cure for Multiple Sclerosis?

  Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an illness that damages the myelin sheath in the brain, is an ailment that is devoid of a clear-cut treatment regimen. Drugs and therapies can slow down the disease, but they cannot put a complete halt to its progression. But now, it seems like there’s hope for MS patients after all. A breakthrough research conducted by experts from the University of Wisconsin show that sleep is pivotal for the production of sleep support cells, especially the myelin that is damaged in the event of MS. With sleep’s promising benefits for the brain, it looks like this cheap, inexpensive and side effect-free activity is the glimmer of hope that MS patients are looking for.  

I. How Sleep Helps the Brain

It is common knowledge that sleep is important for one’s health. In fact, those who lose sleep on a regular basis are at risk of developing cancer, diabetes, hypertension, depression, among many other ailments.   In the study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, it has been proven that certain genes and mechanisms run into overdrive during sleep. The research, which involved mice, showed that oligodendrocytes – cells that boost myelin formation in the brain – increased in production by as much as 50% during sleep.   As such, cells that promoted the stress response, even cell death, kept on functioning when the mice stayed awake. The breakthrough findings of this research, according to sleep expert Dr. Mehdi Tafti, shows that sleep can actually repair the brain – and lack of it might actually harm the mind and its components.  

Implications

With the positive effects of sleep on oligodendrocytes and the brain’s myelin, more and more researchers are thinking of conducting studies that will focus on the benefits of sleep on MS sufferers. Other seemingly-hopeless diseases that affect the myelin sheath, such as Guillain-Barre, Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, Krabbe’s Disease and Osmotic Demyalination Syndrome, might one day be cured with the help of sleep’s astounding effects on the brain.  

II. How to Promote Healthy Sleep

  Given the many brain-boosting benefits that come with sleep, it is essential that you get the appropriate hours of slumber every night. Here are some rituals that can help you hit dreamland – in case you find it hard to do so most of the time:  

Take a warm bath.

  Not only will this eliminate the germs you have contracted along the way, a warm bath can relax your body – and make you sleepy right after a few minutes.  

Get a short and sweet massage.

  You do not necessarily have to hire a masseuse to get to sleep. All you just need to do is convince your partner or friend to give you a calming back rub or a soothing scalp massage. This will relieve the tension in your muscles, enticing you to get some ZZZs.  

Listen to soothing music.

  The sounds of waves or heartbeats will relax your mind, giving you the tranquility you need. Healthy sleep boasts a lot of benefits – especially with regards to the brain. Shield your mind from myelin-related diseases by getting enough sleep nightly.