Not Sleeping Could Kill Your Brain Cells For Good, And Now We're So Freaked Out We Can't Sleep
Think twice before pulling another all-nighter. Yup, I'm talking to you, workaholics and college students. A new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience made a startling conclusion – lack of sleep over a long period of time could cause your brain cells to die, and there's no way to reverse the damage.
It's important to note that the University of Pennsylvania used lab mice, not humans for their study. They let some of the mice sleep, while others were forced to stay awake for various periods of time. About 25 to 30 percent of brain cells died in mice that were forced to stay awake the longest.
That's not all – researchers found the living cells, or neurons, were under stress, and actually kept the mice from communicating with each other. That's a big deal, since those cells affect our moods, allow us to focus, and control our cognitive performance. If this experiment has any implications for humans, anyone chronically not getting enough sleep may be in trouble.
“We now have evidence that sleep loss can lead to irreversible injury,” says Sigrid Veasey, the study's lead author and associate professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, according to Forbes. "This might be in a simple animal, but this suggests to us that we are going to have to look very carefully in humans.”
This is the first evidence that shows lack of sleep can kill brain cells, but researchers are hoping that one day, a drug can be developed to protect the brain from the side-effects of sleeplessness.
I'm beginning to rethink my numerous all-nighters, cramming for exams in college... was it really worth it? My brains cells say... wait, what was the question?