Astonishing discovery about sleep stuns scientists

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An alarming new report finds that you may be causing significant damage to your brain and not even realize it.

Scientists have just made a huge finding about sleep that suggests the way you’re sleeping is potentially causing great damage to your brain. Researchers at Marche Polytechnic University in Italy found that a lack of sleep can cause parts of the brain synapses to be “eaten” by other brain cells, meaning your brain is basically eating itself if you aren’t getting enough sleep.

Astrocytes essentially are cells in the brain that clean out other cells, and the scientists who studied the brains of mice found these cells were much more active when the mice didn’t get enough sleep.

Scientists have long known the importance of sleep, warning the public that chronic sleep deprivation increases plaques in the brain that may cause Alzheimer’s, according to one study.

“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” Michele Bellesi, the main researchers involved in the study, told New Scientist. “They are like old pieces of furniture, and so probably need more attention and cleaning.”

“We previously found that Mertk and its ligand Gas, astrocytic genes involved in phagocytosis, are upregulated after acute sleep deprivation,” the abstract from the paper states. “These results suggested that astrocytes may engage in phagocytic activity during extended wake, but direct evidence was lacking. Studies in humans and rodents also found that sleep loss increases peripheral markers of inflammation, but whether these changes are associated with neuroinflammation and/or activation of microglia, the brain’s resident innate immune cells, was unknown.”


Wanda B. Hewlett

Wanda B. Hewlett (Contributor) is a freelance writer from the UK. When she’s not busy writing she loves to spend her time traveling, exploring and running.

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