Lack of sleep can cause brain damage
A good night of sleep may do more than make you feel rested. According to new research published in the journal SLEEP, sleep deprivation increases blood concentrations of brain molecules to levels often seen in cases of brain damage.
The researchers, from Uppsala University in Sweden, looked at 15 healthy young men who spent two nights in a sleep laboratory. One night, the men were deprived of sleep; the second night they slept a normal eight hours. Before and after each night the men provided blood samples so researchers could measure the blood levels of two brain molecules; neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100 calcium binding protein B (S-100B).
Results showed that total sleep deprivation increased the levels of NSE and S-100B by around 20 percent compared to the normal night of sleep. Higher levels of these molecules in the blood is usually a sign of damaged brain tissue, or that something is wrong with the blood-brain barrier, or both.
Researchers conclude that more research needs to be done, but said that it provides more evidence that a good night of sleep may be critical to brain health.