Get Some Good Sleep to Stop the Brain to 'Eat Itself'

NDTV Food Desk  |  Updated: May 30, 2017 12:43 IST

Get Some Good Sleep to Stop the Brain to 'Eat Itself'
  • Sleep deprivation is a long-term condition
  • It can cause many health issues like stress and reduced metabolism
  • This study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem. It not only results in headaches, irritable mood, lack of concentration, etc, but several other serious health consequences too. Sleep deprivation is one of the most pressing concerns of the current generation, which unfortunately for the lack of its severe physiological manifestation has not been taken as seriously as it should be. Sleep-deprivation is a long term condition of not having enough sleep, is either acute or chronic and can further lead to various health hazards. Health issues may include high-stress levels, decreased metabolism, heart and kidney issues and a lack of general well-being. A new study, conducted by Michele Bellesi of the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, adds to the list of harmful effects of sleep deprivation claiming that it can actually cause the brain to ‘eat itself’. Yes, you heard us. 

The experiments were carried out in a mice model and researchers analysed the brains of mice that had regular sleep, spontaneous wake, sleep deprivation and chronic sleep deprivation. With the help of block-face scanning software, scientists were able to measure the synapses and cell processes in the mouse's frontal cortex. They specifically looked at certain cells called astrocytes cells and found that the sleep-deprived mice showed more activity with these cells. (Also read: 7 Foods That May Leave You Sleep Deprived)
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Researchers found that portions of the synapses were literally eaten up by astrocytes because of sleep loss. They were not able to find out the effects of this but they believe that it may not be a bad thing as it could just be a way of cleaning up old brain debris and therefore, more research is required to understand this phenomenon better. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and hints that astrocytes may start breaking down more of the brain’s debris if you’re sleep deprived.

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The study also looked at the effect of sleep deprivation on that microglial cells that account for around 15 per cent of cells found within the brain. It shows that chronic sleep restriction (for the mice it was five days of being kept awake) led to increased signs of microglial activation which may lead to serious brain disorders and thus, make these findings worrisome.

Adults should get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Anxiety, low immunity, over emotional state and forgetfulness are some of the most common signs of sleep deprivation that you must watch out for and make sure you god good rest daily.


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Tags:  SleepBrain