A new study has shown that sleep loss in mice will make their brain’s immune cells work in double time. Sure this helps in the short term to keep everything functioning but if the lack of sleep continues then the brain starts to eat itself.
Being a night owl may very well be a dangerous way to give yourself dementia. Brain cells that are charged with cleaning up old cells and making sure debris are digested seem to work twice as hard when you lack sleep. At the start this may very well help you stay awake, keeping your brain’s healthy connections free of any harmful cells. But Michele Bellisi of Marche University in Italy exclaimed that if this process goes on for too long, then the person is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The surprising and worrying conclusion happened when Bellisi and his team studied intently the effects of sleep deprivation in mice. Some groups of mice were kept awake for five days in a row, which would be the same as a human experiencing chronic sleep loss. And the results were very damning. The glial cells, which you can think of like your brain’s cleaning system, were even more active after chronic sleep deprivation.
Excessive glial cell activity has already been linked to numerous neurological diseases and brain disorders. So this find definitely links the rates of dementia being higher in people who lack sleep. This research definitely shines a light on some disturbing consequences of sleep loss.
So next time you are thinking of pulling an all-nighter to study for that exam or just want to watch one more episode of your favorite series. You may do better to do your brain cells a favor and get those extra hours sleep. In fact, we should just all listen to our mothers and go to bed on time!