Sleep deprivation affects brain cell growth

Published: Thursday 15 March 2007

a new study has found that sleep deprivation stops brain cell growth. The team at Princeton University, usa, says that changes in the brain's environment caused by lack of sleep is similar to that of stress. Prolonged sleep deprivation causes deterioration of many basic physiological and cognitive functions.

The study was conducted on rats who were deprived of sleep for three days. After 72 hours the researchers found that those who missed out on rest had higher levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and produced significantly fewer new brain cells. To determine whether elevated corticosterone levels are responsible for the inhibition, scientists normalised hormone levels and despite sleep deprivation found that in this condition the inhibition was abolished.

The results suggest that it is the elevated stress hormone levels resulting from sleep deprivation that could explain the reduction in cell production in the adult brain.

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