A lack of sleep ‘damages the brain in a similar way to being hit on the head’



A study finds that being sleep deprived causes a similar change in the brain to that seen after a head injury. The researchers said the healthy young men examined in the study showed a spike in the same chemicals which indicate brain damage.

Professor Christian Benedict, of Uppsala University, Sweden, explained that the chemcials NSE and S-100B are biomarkers for brain damage, such as concussion.


He said: ‘What we found was their levels in the blood rose in the group that went without sleep for a night. This was not to the extent that would happen after a head injury, for instance, but it was still significant.

The brain requires sleep to cleanse itself of toxic substances. A lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s

‘During sleep, the brain cleans itself of toxic substances and NSE and S-100B increase in response to these substances.’

He said the findings back up previous research showing how the brain uses sleep to cleanse itself.

Professor Benedict also said his study could support previous studies which linked a lack of sleep with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

The rise of the chemicals in the blood after sleep loss may suggest not getting enough sleep is conducive to a loss of brain tissue, he explained.

Professor Benedict, whose study is published in the journal Sleep, added: ‘In conclusion, the findings of our trial indicate a good night’s sleep may be critical for maintaining brain health.’

A third of the UK population suffer from sleep-related problems, while the average person now sleeps for only seven hours a night, compared with almost nine a few decades ago.

Many scientists believe irregular sleeping patterns lead to illnesses ranging from aches and pains to heart disease, while less than eight hours’ sleep a night can lower the IQ the next day.


via Daily Mail

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