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The Shocking Effects of Just One Night of No Sleep on the Human Brain

A new study shows that just one night of sleep deprivation can make the brain look older, as if it had suddenly grown from one to two years in one night.

During the study, the researchers used machine learning to derive “brain age” estimates from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brains of sleep-deprived participants, which they compared with MRI scans of those who slept through the night.

The results, published in the journal Neuroscience, show that one night of complete sleep deprivation causes brain changes similar to those seen after one or two years of aging.

MRI data from 134 healthy volunteers (42 women and 92 men) aged 19 to 39 years were evaluated in five data sets with different sleep conditions.

The conditions included: total sleep deprivation (no sleep one night with 24 hours of wakefulness), partial sleep deprivation (three hours of sleep one night), chronic sleep deprivation (five hours of sleep each night for five nights) and a control group (eight hours of sleep ). hours) to sleep every night).

Participants in each group had at least one night of “basic sleep” during which they slept for eight hours.

The scientists assessed each participant’s brain each night and determined the participants’ estimated brain age using a machine learning algorithm called BrainageR trained on data from more than 3,000 people.

Scientists from the Jülich Research Center in Germany noted that those who were completely sleep deprived had an increase in brain lifespan of 1-2 years, but these changes were also reversible after a full night’s sleep.

Interestingly, after one night of restorative (compensatory) sleep, the age of the brain did not differ from the original, they wrote.

And those who suffered from both partial and chronic sleep deprivation showed no significant differences in the lifespan of their brains.

“Across three independent datasets, we consistently found an increase in brain age after complete sleep deprivation, which was associated with changes in sleep parameters,” wrote the team behind the study.

The findings suggest that severe total sleep loss alters brain morphology “in the direction of aging” in young adults.

While the results show how a full night without sleep can affect a person, the study does not provide a direct understanding of the long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation.

According to Live Science, scientists have called for more research to evaluate changes in brain activity in those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, such as shift workers.

Source: Independent


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