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, 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

  • 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.
    CBO Report: 23 Million to Lose Coverage Under AHCA

    CBO Report: 23 Million to Lose Coverage Under AHCA

    House Republicans came under sharp criticism for passing the bill before the CBO could make its assessment. Some low-income elderly people could see their premiums go up by 800 percent .

    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.
  • Wayne Rooney Has Decided His Manchester United Future

    Paul Pogba , the French midfielder who scored a goal, said, "We won for Manchester , we worked for them, for the country". United will be among the second seeds in the draw for the group stage of the Champions League in late August.
    Ariana Grande Posts Heartfelt Letter to Bombing Victims, Plans Benefit Concert

    Ariana Grande Posts Heartfelt Letter to Bombing Victims, Plans Benefit Concert

    Police have "got hold of a large part" of the terror network behind the Manchester bombing, an official said earlier on Friday. The two world leaders will likely see each other at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

    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.
  • 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.

    United States grants Israel extra defence aid: Netanyahu

    The Gulf states said they would normalize with Israel if Israel froze construction outside of the settlements. That is why Trump was silent on Jerusalem , on a Palestinian state, the " occupation ".
    Analysts' Ratings Review: Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.- Petrobras (NYSE:PBR)

    Analysts' Ratings Review: Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.- Petrobras (NYSE:PBR)

    Finally, Janus Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras by 2.3% in the first quarter. It has outperformed by 22.86% the S&P500.The move comes after 6 months positive chart setup for the $55.04B company.
  • 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.

    Newspapers Review: Provocative Israeli parade in occupied Jerusalem focus of dailies

    Former President Bill Clinton helped establish the current US policy on Jerusalem through the " Clinton Parameters " in 2000. The US president dedicated less than an hour to meet with Abbas in Bethlehem , during a two-day visit to Israel .

    Arsene Wenger makes huge goalkeeping call ahead of FA Cup final

    Inter target Antonio Conte has declared that "I still have two years" left on his Chelsea contract and "intends to respect it". We should also remember that there's still a possibility, an outside one, that this could be Wenger's final game in charge.