Study Connects Sleep Loss to Irreversible Brain Cell Damage   

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that staying awake too long is proven to kill brain cells in mice. This is one more study that reveals how important it is to get enough sleep each and every night. This study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology is the first study to reveal sleep loss can cause irreversible brain cell damage. The brain relies on sleep to “reboot” and it seems it cannot function well without proper rejuvenation.

The study authors sought to find an answer to issues we commonly face in modern times. Does our busy lifestyle and loss of sleep on a regular basis alter our bodies in any way? The study’s lead author Sigrid Veasey says, “Modern society enables a shortening of sleep times, yet long-term consequences of extended wakefulness on the brain are largely unknown.” They were able to prove just this with evidence that bad sleep conditions disrupted circadian rhythms and resulted in a degeneration of brain cells. It seems that burning the midnight oil can have very detrimental effects on brain functioning.

Although this study was conducted on mice, it is important to remember that our brains are not entirely different from this animal. The researchers assessed the brains of mice subject to conditions mimicking shift work or late night studying. Dr. Sigrid Veasey says, “This might be in a simple animal but this suggest to us that we are going to have to look very carefully in humans.” Just as in humans, mice us a type of brain cell commonly referred to as LCs in recovery during sleep. The mice limited to four or five hours of sleep over 24-hour periods actually experience a 25% loss of LCs in just three days.

When combined with the results of several studies, this new information leaves us with further evidence that the brain and body need sleep. Some of the functions we know are disrupted during a lack of sleep include gene function, brain recovery, metabolism, inflammation, long-term disease risk, and brain detoxification.

Even with all of this knowledge, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), insufficient sleep is now an epidemic in America. According to the CDC, more than a third of adults say they got on average less than seven hours of sleep a night. Also, 38 percent said they had been tired enough to unintentionally fall asleep during the day at least once a month.

If you think you are suffering from a lack of sleep, contact the team at FusionSleep to schedule an appointment and learn more about your options. No one should suffer and increase their risk simply because they are not getting enough sleep at night.