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After surveying past studies of sleep-deprived rats, many of which were conducted by Dr. VC, the researchers found that when animals were kept awake for just a few hours more than usual, two main parts of the brain were significantly affected: locus coerulus, which Manages and hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory formation and learning. These regions, which are the focus of conscious experience in humans, slow down the production of animal antioxidants, which protect the neurons from the volatile molecules that are constantly produced, such as the exhaust fumes by the function of the cells. When antioxidant levels are low, these molecules can form and attack the brain from the inside out, breaking down proteins, fats and DNA.

“Awakening of the brain, even under normal circumstances, is punishable,” Dr. Fernandez says. “But when you stay awake for too long, the system gets overloaded. At some point, you can’t beat a dead horse. If you tell your cells to stay active more than 30 percent of the time every day, the cells die. “

In the rat brain, sleep deprivation leads to cell death after a few days of sleep restriction – a much lower threshold than previously thought for brain damage. It causes inflammation in the prefrontal cortex and increases levels of Tau and amyloid proteins, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, in the locus querculus and hippocampus.

After a full year of regular sleep, rats that had previously been deprived of sleep are still suffering from nerve damage and encephalitis. To Dr. VC and Mr. Zamor, it suggests that the effects are long-lasting and possibly permanent.

Still, many scientists say new research should not cause panic. “It’s possible that sleep deprivation damages rats and rat brains, but that doesn’t mean you should be stressed for not getting enough sleep,” said Jerome Siegel, a sleep scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who did not. Review contributions.

Dr. Siegel noted that nerve injury comes in degrees and the extent of the effects of sleep deprivation on the human brain is still largely unknown. He further expressed concern that unnecessary concerns about the long-term effects of sleep deprivation could make people try to sleep more, unnecessarily and with medication.

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