Sleep deprivation causes the brain to eat itself, according to the latest research. Chronic sleep deprivation causes excessive activity of the brain’s self-cleaning mechanism, which leads to the destruction of healthy cells. All thanks to glial cells.
Variable, star-shaped cells develop at the time of brain formation in utero. They inhabit every corner of it and become its guardians.
They are the first to react to any head injury, create myelin sheaths, clean the brain of unnecessary waste and perform many other functions for the brain to work properly.
New research has shown another surprising property: they eat healthy brain cells in mice that have been artificially induced with sleep deprivation. Scientists speculate that probably the same happens in humans.
The study looked at two types of glial cells:
- Gardeners of neurotransmitters – astrocytes. Identically as gardeners clip bushes, astrocytes clean the synapses of unused, unnecessary bits of impulses to maintain order and efficiency of “wiring”.
- Garbage cells. These microglia cells constantly search the brain for used cells, remains of dead tissue fragments and pathogens.
Both types of glial cells were found to destroy cells in sleep-depressed mice.
“For the first time, we’ve observed that parts of synapses [places where a nerve impulse jumps from one cell to another] are literally eaten by astrocytes where sleep deprivation has occurred. To some extent, pruning concerned the largest synapses: used, mature connections. The hyperactivity of microglia cells is worrying due to the fact that this phenomenon is observed in people with neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s, “say Italian scientists.
Assuming that the results of the studies on mice also concern us, we should absolutely always take advantage of sleep. The late nights disrupt the regeneration and repair process. Tissues and organs send messages to the brain throughout the day to fix. It is only during deep, healthy sleep that the brain has the opportunity to take care of it all.
The late nights weaken the body, disrupt the work of hormones and change all biochemistry. It has already been proven that sleep deprivation contributes to:
– slowing down thought processes and weakening concentration,
– reduced productivity,
– faster aging;
– gaining weight;
– reduced fertility and libido;
– lowered toleration for pain and stress;
– weakened intestine and digestive problems;
– lowered immunity;
– increased risk of cancer and chronic diseases.
It is not without reason that Ayurveda has recognized insomnia, along with constipation, for thousands of years, as the most dangerous symptom that requires immediate diagnosis and treatment. However, the solutions aren’t taking sleeping pills or laxatives. The priority is to find the root cause and eliminate it immediately. Don’t slowly kill yourself. Take care of your body properly and give it time to relax. With proper organization, you can find time for everything. The choices you make today will affect your future (which may not be too far away).