A new study warns that a single night of sleep deprivation can cause your brain to age by two years. The Journal of Neuroscience has published a paper stating that changes in brain morphology caused by sleep deprivation are reversible after a good night’s sleep. Researchers used machine learning to generate “brain age” estimates from MRI scans of the brains of 134 participants aged between 19 and 39. The MRI scans were taken after the participants had experienced acute sleep deprivation of three hours’ time-in-bed for one night, and then after they had had a full night’s sleep.
Eva-Maria Elmenhorst, who conducted the study at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, stated that their research presented fresh proof that clarifies the impact of sleep loss on the entire brain, making it resemble ageing. The study discovered that brain age didn't change significantly during either acute or chronic partial sleep deprivation, with participants spending only five hours in bed for five consecutive nights.
Doctors explain that sleep is essential for effective thinking and memory, and sleep disruption can impact various body functions.
They further explain sleep is crucial for reviving the majority of the body's hormonal systems and organs. Additionally, it's also critical for rearranging the connections between neurons, which is crucial for learning and memory. Therefore, any disturbance in getting adequate restorative sleep can deeply affect the brain and lead to both physical and functional modifications in neural pathways.
Doctors hope that the study raises awareness of the importance of sleep and helps people understand the role of sleep hygiene in maintaining mental health, productivity, and creativity in the workplace. Proper sleep hygiene measures are essential to ensure that an individual has adequate sleep, and that disruptions to sleep patterns are minimized, according to the doctor.
The study’s findings underline the importance of sleep to maintaining a healthy brain and the need to prioritize adequate sleep for optimal brain function.
Q1: Can lack of sleep permanently damage the brain?
The study found that changes in brain morphology caused by sleep deprivation are reversible after a good night's sleep. This means that even if the brain ages by two years after a single night of sleep deprivation, it can still recover after a good night's sleep.
Q2: How much sleep is needed to maintain a healthy brain?
The study's findings emphasize the importance of prioritizing adequate sleep for optimal brain function. While individual sleep needs may vary, experts recommend adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain good health.