The brain starts to eat itself after chronic sleep deprivation

The brain starts to eat itself after chronic sleep deprivation

Exhaustion and fatigue, for which we somehow always blame lack of sleep, can also have another explanation - lack of brain capacity.

A team of researchers, led by neuroscientist Michele Bellesi from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, have concluded that prolonged periods of sleeplessness can cause the brain to demolish and digest its own neurons and synaptic connections. In particular they studied the activity of two keys types of glial cells-astrocytes and microglial cells-that have previously been shown to have increased activity after sleep deprivation. Together, they will prowl the organ and, essentially, conduct nightly maintenance to keep the complex network of your brain in order.

In the short term, this might be beneficial - clearing potentially harmful debris and rebuilding worn circuitry might protect healthy brain connections. Think of it as frantic housekeeping, when the brain throws out the dishes along with the stains.

Previous research has found that chronic sleep deprivation increases so-called plaques in the brain thought to be a main cause of Alzheimer's and other dementias. During the study, mice were either allowed to have sufficient sleep or were kept awake for 8 hours to many days to replicate sleep deprivation.

This alone may not necessarily be a bad thing. Specifically looking at cells called astrocytes cells, the researchers found that the sleep-deprived mice showed more activity with these cells.

According to a new Italian study cited by ScienceAlert.com, chronic lack of sleep forces the brain's normal process of refreshing itself into overdrive.

Bellisi's team found that after an undisturbed sleep, astrocytes appeared to be active in around six per cent of the synapses in the brains of the well-rested mice.

Phagocytosis of presynaptic components by astrocytes was shown to be elevated after both acute and chronic sleep loss compared with normal sleep-wake patterns. "We already know that sustained microglial activation has been observed in Alzheimer's and other forms of neurodegeneration", he said. On the other hand, microglial activity in mice that mimicked chronic sleep deprivation experienced a 13.5 percent spike in astrocyte activity. "The researchers plan to investigate how long the effects of sleep deprivation last". Since the additional activity was seen at the largest, most mature synapses, it may be that these synapses were in need of additional cleaning and that this is highlighted in a state of sleep deprivation.

Related Articles

  • G7 Financial Leaders Vow More Cyber Cooperation

    This story has been corrected to show that the summit in Taormina will be held May 26-27, not May 25-26. The G-7 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

    White House: Trump yet undetermined on Russian sanctions

    Tusk spoke a day after a US official, asked whether Trump plans to extend the USA sanctions, indicated that he had not decided. The comments are at odds with those by his boss, who has championed coal and unraveled a number of Obama-era energy policies.
    China's credit rating downgraded by Moody's from Aa3 to A1

    China's credit rating downgraded by Moody's from Aa3 to A1

    China's total non-government debt is estimated to have jumped to 260% of gross domestic product in 2016, from 170% in 2007. The move marks the first downgrade of China's debt by Moody's since 1989, according to Bloomberg .
  • Palestinian protesters hold Trump effigy at gunpoint to decry visit

    Trump arrived at the Presidential palace in Bethlehem in the morning after travelling there by vehicle from Jerusalem. Yet for all his talk about overseeing the ultimate deal , there has been a curious gap in Trump's public rhetoric.
    North Atlantic Treaty Organisation  allies need 'to pay their fair share

    North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies need 'to pay their fair share

    The US side meanwhile "expressed concern that jobs in the US would be lost because of Brexit ", an European Union source said. Germany spends 1.2 percent on defence but argues that its spending on development aid also contributes to worldwide security.
    Kaine's son, 7 others, charged in protest of pro-Trump event

    Kaine's son, 7 others, charged in protest of pro-Trump event

    Kaine was arrested on suspicion of second-degree rioting along with five other protesters in the state's Capitol building. A criminal complaint says Linwood Kaine and others changed into black clothing during the rally and entered the Capitol.
  • Curry Scores 36pts, Warriors Sweep Spurs, Advanced To NBA Finals

    Manu Ginobili exited an National Basketball Association game on Monday night for what could very well be the final time. Veteran Manu Ginobili - in a potential farewell game - posted 15 points for the Spurs . "I'll just leave it at that".

    Rebuffing Trump, Iran president says missile tests to continue 'if necessary'

    Trump appeared to have learned that lesson. "Unfortunately, Americans have always made mistakes in our region", Rouhani said. On the same day Trump extended sanctions relief under the nuclear accord, he levied new penalties for the missile program.

    Philippine soldiers attack ISIS-linked militants in besieged city

    Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture, but he has proved elusive. The fighting led President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a 60-day period of martial law for all of Mindanao.
  • Button hit with 15-place grid penalty in Monaco

    Button hit with 15-place grid penalty in Monaco

    But we've got Friday off, so a little bit of rest. "There's still more to come from us this weekend". "I feel good. If you put everything together in qualifying it can give you a good chance.

    Conte: Chelsea Are Underdogs Vs Arsenal In FA Cup Final

    Terry subsequently said that he "could not care less" about those who denounced the farewell gesture. Per Mertesacker is set to slot into a formation that he admits is entirely unfamiliar to him.

    Ariana Grande Will Return to Manchester for Benefit Concert

    They are also hunting for a second explosive device assembled by Abedi that may now be with another member of the network. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the attack.