As reported in the Daily Mail a recent study’s results confirmed the importance of a good night”s sleep and linked lack of sleep with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and MS. So do you ever feel like you’ve been hit on the head after a bad night’s sleep? Well according to scientists, the thought isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. A study found going without sleep for just one night causes changes in the brain similar to those that occur after a blow to the head. The researchers said the healthy young men examined in the study showed a spike in the same chemicals which indicate brain damage. Being sleep deprived causes a similar change in the brain to that seen after a head injury – it results in a spike in the chemicals associated with brain injury.
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”sand multiple sclerosis . ‘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.
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.