There are a number of brain disorders linked to insomnia.
A recent study suggests that this may be down to the fact that the body isn't able to remove toxic proteins when it is sleep deprived.
Researchers in New York have discovered that sleep helps wash away toxins that naturally develop in the brain over the course of the day.
In fact, they believe that one of the main reasons for sleep is to remove these toxins from the brain.
This process is so important to our overall health, one of the researchers went so far as to say that it is a vital function for staying alive.
Researchers looked at the brains of mice and found the glymphatic system (the system that removes waste from the brain) was 10 times more active when mice were sleeping compared to when they were awake.
The study found that during sleep, brain cells shrink. This opens up gaps between neurons, which allows bodily fluids to wash away any toxins that may be present.
Without sleep (or with disrupted sleep), this process doesn't happen.
Hopefully we'll see some human studies in the near future.
Last updated: October 18, 2013