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Study shows sleep deprivation affects brain cells

March 20th 2014 / Anna Hunter

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New research shows that sleep deprivation could cause a permanent loss of brain cells. It's time to start prioritising that early night, says Anna Hunter

Whether box set dependency, long hours al desko or commutes akin to epic voyages are to blame, many of us struggle to get enough shuteye. We frantically dash from one activity to the next, with one eye on our smartphones and the other desperately seeking out the nearest coffee shop. All too often sleep gets relegated to the backburner and we’re all aware of the resulting burnout that can ensue. That’s why weekends are for lie-ins and holidays for hibernation: R&R is the modern day hedonism.

Unfortunately, recent research published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that catching up on forty winks at the weekend may not suffice when it comes to restoring our physical and mental equilibrium. In fact, trading off bedtime for burning the midnight oil may even trigger a permanent loss of brain cells. Put your latte down and listen up.

A study carried out by a team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that, in mice, prolonged lack of sleep akin to the sleep patterns of night workers (three days with only four to five hours sleep per 24 hours) resulted in the mice losing 25 per cent of their brain cells in part of the brain stem. Talking to the BBC, Professor Sigrid Veasey of the Center for Sleep and Cicadian Neurobiology underlined that these findings were the some of the first to definitively shed light on the damaging effects of sleep deprivation of the brain. “We now have evidence that sleep loss can lead to irreversible injury. This might be in a simple animal but this suggests to us that we are going to have to look very carefully in humans”

While the BBC also reported that experts are looking to develop a medicine that protects brain cells by boosting the natural chemicals involved in sleep recovery, its conception is a long way off. In the meantime, we suggest prioritising getting to bedfordshire at a reasonable hour, if not for beauty sleep, then to preserve your brainpower. As we glossies preach, beauty is nothing without brains.

If you’re having trouble nodding off, consult Peta Bee’s guide to de-stressing at bedtime.

If you’re still suffering from sleeplessness, this sedative selection of products may help.

Failing the above, consult our forum with sleep expert Dr Guy Meadows.

If you’re yet to acquire the answers you need, why not consult Dr Guy via his expert page?

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