Sleep Deprivation Studies: Discover How One Night of Insomnia Can Boost Mood for Days

The Surprising Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Mood


Sleep deprivation usually causes symptoms such as fatigue and poor cognitive performance, however, it has been shown that just one night of insomnia may actually improve your mood for several days.

Improving Mood Despite Exhaustion

A new study indicates that sometimes, even though the body is tired after staying up all night, the brain feels happy.

Researchers say this may be due to the brain chemical dopamine, which plays a role in feelings of pleasure and reward.

Similar to Antidepressants

According to researchers, the effect of nighttime sleep deprivation is similar to powerful antidepressants that maintain the mood for several days.

A team from Northwestern University studied the behavior and brain activity of mice after subjecting them to mild and temporary sleep deprivation. They surprisingly discovered that during the acute phase of sleep loss, not only did dopamine levels rise, but synaptic plasticity (the ability of neurons to modify their connections) was also enhanced, essentially rewiring the brain to maintain a euphoric mood for several days.

The findings by neurobiologists at Northwestern University could help scientists better understand how mood changes naturally.

It could also lead to a clearer understanding of how fast-acting antidepressants, such as ketamine, work, and help researchers identify previously unknown targets for new antidepressant drugs.

Temporary Effects and Cautions

“Chronic sleep loss has been well studied, and its harmful effects have been widely and uniformly documented,” said author Professor Yevgenia Kozorovetsky. “But brief sleep loss, such as the equivalent of a student staying up all night before an exam, is less clear-cut. We found that less “Sleep has a powerful antidepressant effect and rewires the brain. This is an important reminder that our casual activities, like a sleepless night, can radically change the brain in as little as a few hours.”

But researchers warn against starting to stay up all night in order to improve your mood. “The antidepressant effect is transient, and we know the importance of a good night’s sleep,” explains Professor Kozorovetsky. “I would say it’s better to go to the gym or go for a walk.”

Behavioral Changes

The researchers found that after a sleepless night, the mice’s behavior became more aggressive, hyperactive and sexual, compared to animals that had experienced a typical night’s sleep.

The activity of dopamine neurons, which are responsible for the brain’s response to reward, was measured, and the researchers found that activity was higher in the animals during a short period of sleep loss.

They also discovered that the antidepressant effect persisted, except when dopamine reactions in the prefrontal cortex, the front part of the brain, were silenced.

“This means that the prefrontal cortex is a clinically relevant area when searching for therapeutic targets,” Professor Kozorovetsky said. “But it also reinforces the idea that has been built up in this field recently, which is that dopamine neurons play very important but very different roles in the brain. “It’s not just a homogeneous population that simply predicts rewards.”

Durations of Effects

The study, published in the journal Neuron, found that most behaviors, such as hyperactivity and increased sexual activity, disappeared within a few hours after acute sleep loss, but the antidepressant effect lasted for a few days.


Source: Independent

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