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Jan 02, 2014 06:02 AM EST

Loss of Sleep, Even For a Night, Causes Brain Damage, Study

The brain damage observed after being hit on the head is similar to the changes observed in people deprived of sleep, even for just one night, according to an Uppsala University, Sweden, study.

The researchers said that lack of a good night's sleep increases blood concentrations of molecules NSE and S-100B in the morning. These chemicals normally shoot up in blood under circumstances of a brain damage. As a result, lack of sleep might be indirectly responsible for the loss of brain tissue.

Professor Christian Benedict said that NSE and S-100B are indicators of brain damage, such as concussions.

For the study, 15 normal-weight men slept for fewer hours in the first experiment and in the second one, they slept for approximately eight hours.

"What we found was their levels in the blood rose in the group that went without sleep for a night. This was not to the extent that would happen after a head injury, for instance, but it was still significant," Benedict, a sleep researcher at the University's Department of Neuroscience, said. "During sleep, the brain cleans itself of toxic substances and NSE and S-100B increase in response to these substances," Daily Mail UK reports.

 "Thus, our results indicate that a lack of sleep may promote neuro degenerative processes. In conclusion, the findings of our trial indicate a good night's sleep may be critical for maintaining brain health," Benedict said in a press release.

The finding has been published in the journal SLEEP.

Previous studies showed that lack of sleep significantly reduces IQ the following day, and increases the risk of developing alzheimer's, parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, illnesses ranging from aches and pains and heart disease.

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