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More Evidence Sleep Deprivation Is Bad For The Brain

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Here's more evidence that sleep deprivation does not do good things to your brain.

A small new study in the journal SLEEP shows that one night of sleep deprivation is associated with signs of brain tissue loss, as indicated by higher blood concentrations of two brain molecules the morning after.

The molecules, neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100 calcium binding protein B (S-100B), "typically rise in blood under conditions of brain damage," study researcher Christian Benedict, of Uppsala University, said in a statement. "Thus, our results indicate that a lack of sleep may promote neurodegenerative processes."

For the study, 15 men of normal weight underwent one night of sleep deprivation, and then one night of eight hours of sleep. The researchers found that blood levels of these molecules were higher in the men the morning after the sleep deprivation, compared with the morning after getting a full night's rest.

Previously, University of Surrey researchers found that sleep deprivation can also have an impact on your genes -- a week's worth of not getting enough rest (fewer than six hours of sleep each night) was associated with changes to more than 700 genes, though researchers noted that the role of each gene is still not completely understood.

In addition, a brain imaging study from University of California, Berkeley, researchers showed that a night of sleep deprivation affected the brain's decision-making and reward areas -- and also led to study participants craving higher-calorie foods.

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