I've already written about research suggesting that insomnia reduces IQ and cognitive function - now a study has found that sleep deprivation may actually kill brain cells.
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that sleep deprived mice lost up to 25% of certain brain cells.
Researchers attempted to mimic the sleep patterns of modern humans - those who work shifts or long hours in the office.
After the equivalent of 3 days of night shifts with only 4-5 hours of sleep in 24 hours, 25% of the brain cells responsible for alertness and cognition were lost.
This is said to be the first study to find that a lack of sleep can lead to a loss of brain cells.
Further research is needed to determine whether the same effects can be found in humans - if so, it will be proof that sleep deprivation can lead to irreversible brain injury (and hopefully pave the way to the invention of a drug to help protect brain cells).
Source: Penn Medicine
Last updated: May 14, 2014