How Failing to Get Enough Sleep Stresses Your Brain

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that staying awake for too long destroys brain cells. This study was conducted on mice and suggests that sleep deprivation may have a similar effect on humans. This study uncovers the irreversible damage that brain cells sustain as a result of failing to get enough sleep. In humans, sleep deprivation causes damage to the locus coeruleus neurons. They play an important role in keeping you awake and alert.

The study also involved research on the effect of working late at night. Mice were put under similar conditions as humans experience when they are awake at night. The results indicated that the disrupted cardiac rhythms led to LC neuron degeneration and ultimately cell death, i.e., apoptosis.

Earlier studies that were conducted in the University of Surrey revealed a connection between loss of sleep and disruptions in gene functions. This included inflammation, disrupted metabolism, and a long-term disease risk to the brain and body. Another study, conducted in October, revealed how sleep promotes brain health by flushing out waste. The waste products that are flushed out may lead to diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. The researchers also found out that upsetting the body clock by failing to get enough sleep results in dangerously high levels of fat and glucose.

University of Bristol conducted a similar study that suggested that disrupted sleep patterns can shrink the brain and even impair memory. Above all, it can raise stress levels. The study was conducted on airline cabin crew. The findings revealed that the crew members had a shrunken temporal lobe region. This region of the brain is critical to the memory. Moreover, the crewmembers were also observed to have a high level of cortisol (stress hormone) and impaired memories.

Irregular sleep patterns and failing to get enough sleep may also lead to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. This syndrome causes depression, irritability, and poor concentration.

Both the quality and quantity of sleep influence the brain’s ability to learn and memorize. Research in this area indicated that sleep affects these abilities. A sleep-deprived individual cannot focus on a task properly. This also contributes to reduced learning efficiency. It is safe to say that proper and optimum functioning of the brain requires that the person gets adequate sleep. The damages accruing from failing to get enough sleep affect the learning and memorizing process, and sleep deprivation causes irreparable and fatal damage to the brain cells.

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