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By Dr. Mercola
Could poor sleeping habits cause brain damage and even accelerate onset of Alzheimer’s disease? According to recent research, the answer is yes on both accounts.
According to neuroscientist Dr. Sigrid Veasey, associate professor of Medicine and a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, this is the first time they’ve been able to show that sleep loss actually results in the loss of neurons.
A second study also suggests that if you sleep poorly, you’re at increased risk for earlier onset of severe dementia.
Sleep Loss Linked to ‘Massive Brain Damage’
The first study in question, published in the Journal of Neuroscience,1, 2, 3 found that sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain. Wakefulness is associated with mitochondrial stress, and without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in.
The research also showed that catching up on “sleep debt” on the weekend willnot prevent this damage. To reach their conclusion, the researchers submitted mice to an irregular sleep schedule similar to that of shift workers.
Inconsistent, intermittent sleep resulted in a remarkably considerable, and irreversible, brain damage—the mice actually lost 25 percent of the neurons located in their locus coeruleus,4 a nucleus in the brainstem associated with arousal, wakefulness, and certain cognitive processes. As reported by Timemagazine:5
“The scientists believe that when the mice slept inconsistently, their newer cells would create more sirtuin type 3, a protein meant to energize and protect the mice. But after several days of missing sleep, as a shift worker might, the protein creation fell off and cells began to die off at a faster pace.”
Read the rest of the story: Sleep Loss Linked to ‘Massive Brain Damage’.