Article from ScienceNews.org:
Lost Sleep Could Mean Lost Neurons
Or does the brain pay a price for repeated sleep loss?”
The researchers were particularly interested in the locus ceruleus, an area of neurons deep in the brain stem. The locus ceruleus plays an important role in attention, “fight or flight” and our sleep-wake cycles. But the locus ceruleus is also very sensitive to stress. And late nights can make those cells very frazzled indeed.
With three days of eight-hour sleep deprivation, the neurons in the locus ceruleus actually began to die. Napping didn’t make up for the sleep lost.
“We didn’t think the brain got injured from sleep loss,” Veasey says. “Now we know it does.”
But Veasey says the current findings are scary enough:
“All of us in the lab take sleep a lot more seriously than we used to!”
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