Your Brain Starts Eating Itself When Sleep Deprived

Get A Good Night’s Sleep.

The reason we sleep goes beyond just replenishing our energy levels as is commonly thought, in actuality our brain changes state when we sleep and to clear away the toxic byproducts of neural activity left behind during the day.

If you are a person who regularly skimps on sleep, not only are you affecting your productivity during the day, you are also causing damage to your brain.  

Researcher have found that persistent lack of sleep  poor sleep causes the brain to clear a significant amount of neurons and synaptic connections, and recovering sleep might not be able to reverse the damage.

Like every other cell in your body, your neurons are always being replenished by two types of glial cells, these are usually referred to as the glue of the nervous system by neuroscientists. 

We are going to get scientific for a bit so bear with us…

Microglial cells are responsible for clearing out old and worn cells, in a process called phagocytosis-meaning “to devour” in Greek. 

The astrocytes prune unnecessary synapses (connection) in the brain to refresh and reshape its wiring. 

What scientist have found is that this process continues in people who are sleep deprived. This process naturally occurs when we sleep so it’s not a problem. But in people who are not getting enough sleep this process goes overboard and the brain start to harm itself.

Think of it like dry cleaning your suit, once in a while is fine, but if you are taking your suit to the dry cleaners every three days, your suit will be ruined by the end of the week.

“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” Bellesi told Andy Coghlan at New Scientist.

Unbridled microglial activity has been linked with Alzheimers and other forms of neurodegeneration.

The suggested minimum amount of sleep for adults is seven hours a night, if your  are getting less than this, try going bed a little earlier. 

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