A major new finding about sleep shows that you may not realize that you're actually causing yourself harm through your sleeping habits.
A remarkable discovery made by scientists at Marche Polytechnic University in Italy could open your eyes about your own sleeping habits, and what damage it could be causing to your brain. Researchers at the university found that not getting enough sleep is causing your brain to essentially eat itself, a worrying finding that suggests people may be causing significant damage to their brains and not realize it.
Basically, they discovered that a lack of sleep causes brain cells to “eat” parts of the brain synapses. These brain cells are called astrocytes, and their jobs is to clean out overworked cells and other debris around your brain. By testing on mice, scientists found that astrocytes were far more active int he brain when mice didn’t get much sleep.
It’s further indication that sleep is way more important than we give it credit for, and our habits of cheating ourselves of sleep in order to catch up on other things may be having a very big negative impact down the road. Some studies have even claimed that chronic sleep deprivation increases plaque in the brain that is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s.
“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” Michele Bellesi, the main researcher on the study, told New Scientist in an interview. “They are like old pieces of furniture, and so probably need more attention and cleaning.”