Findings of a new study have revealed that lack of sleep can cause brain cells to "eat"
some parts of the brain's synapses.
Researchers of a new mice study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience on May 24, found that astrocytes, the cells in the brain tasked to clean worn-out cells, tend to be more active when the animals are sleep deprived, breaking down more of the connections in the brain.
Further observations also revealed that the astrocytes destroy even the healthy synapses and cells of the brain with chronic sleep loss. Based on their findings, study researcher Michele Bellesi, from Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, and colleagues raised concerns over the dangers of sleep deprivation.
"Like many other stressors, extended sleep disruption may lead to a state of sustained microglia activation, perhaps increasing the brain's susceptibility to other forms of damage," the researchers wrote in their study.
Because of current lifestyles, many Americans get insufficient amount of sleep. Enough sleep may be subjective because of variations in people's physical and mental conditions, but experts identified signs that can indicate if a person needs to get more sleep.
People who lack sleep at night tend to be hungrier than normal. Sleep deprivation can boost a person's appetite by affecting the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells the body that it is full and needs to stop eating, while ghrelin gives the hunger signal. The balance of these hormones is shifted when a person does not get enough sleep. The hormone that tells to eat more increases, and the hormone that signals the body to stop eating decreases.
Concentration And Memory Problems
Not getting enough sleep can get a person out of focus. It also impairs a person's ability to make split-second decisions such as those involved in driving and avoiding accidents. Lack of sleep can also mess with a person's memory since it leads to memory consolidation and affects emotional processing
"Without proper rest, it's harder to form memories," explained sleep expert Shelby Freedman Harris. "It is harder to put emotional memories into context, and thus, it is more difficult to act rationally and thoughtfully."
Falling Asleep Easily Even In Odd Places
People who doze off in schools or during work meetings likely have insufficient sleep. Micro-sleep, which happens when a person falls asleep for a few seconds without knowing it, can be particularly dangerous. The behavior can be deadly for people who drive. Experts said that the phenomenon is a way the body expresses a need to get rest.
The skin repairs damaged cells during sleep, and sleep deprivation can disrupt this process. A 2013 study found that skin recovery in those with quality sleep is 30 percent higher compared with those with poor sleep.
Lack of rest can upset the hormonal balance and boost circulating estrogen levels, which can result in more breakouts and even make a person appear older. Long-term sleep deprivation can result in excess wrinkling because of decrease in collagen, which the body produces during sleep.