Recent studies, with the help of ongoing laboratory work, have uncovered unsettling news regarding the brain and sleep. Those losing very much sleep could potentially determine the brain to eat itself, literally. Societies of neuroscience and studies in work since 2013 have shown that the brain may overuse one of its most essential functions, and thus cause damage to itself.
How Exactly Does the Brain “Eat” Itself When Losing Very Much Sleep?
Astrocytes are found throughout the brain and nervous system. These cells are responsible for cleaning the brain by destroying tired, old cells that don’t function properly. When a mammal is sleep deprived, it causes these cells to become overactive. The Journal of Neurosciences published an article last month explaining this effect in lab mice.
When the animals were kept from sleeping, they started to deteriorate, as expected. But their brains also become susceptible to further damage. This can translate to diseases in humans, such as Parkinson’s. It also interferes with daily bodily functions that can become dangerous for people who drive or operate machinery.
When the body is losing very much sleep, it will send astrocytes into overdrive, causing a plethora of damaging complications. One of these includes the induced state of short sleep spans, called microsleeps. In the event of a microsleep, a human loses control over their voluntary actions and falls asleep automatically for a few moments.
A study from 2013 showed that those with healthy sleep patterns had more youthful skin, exhibited fewer wrinkles, and had a more balanced weight. This makes sense, as the body produces skin rejuvenating cells during sleep. In addition, a good night’s rest produces appetite hormones that control hunger, explaining the differences in weight.
The brain is sensitive to many changes in the human behavior, and sleep is no exception. Losing very much sleep can make the brain malfunction and eat itself, no exaggeration. Keeping healthy sleep patterns and going to bed on time can help prevent such adverse effects.
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