Science Discovered That Even Just One Night Of Bad Sleep Has Serious Consequences

Diply 13 Apr 2018

I don't need to tell you that there's pretty much nothing worse than not getting enough sleep. But it turns out the negative side effects go far beyond grouchiness and a need for caffeine.

New research shows that not getting enough sleep causes potentially dangerous buildup of the proteins that are related to Alzheimer's Disease.

First, a little sleep science.

Wikimedia Commons | Jawahar Swaminathan and MSD staff at the European Bioinformatics Institute

The mental workout we put ourselves through every day causes our brain cells to release beta-amyloid proteins, which build up in the brain. These proteins continue to accumulate with mental activity throughout the body's waking hours.

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Sleep literally cleans these proteins from your brain.

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It's a good thing, because once these beta-amyloid proteins are produced, the brain has no use for them. They're more or less waste byproducts, and sleep is the mechanism used by the body to get rid of them.

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Beta-amyloid proteins are related to Alzheimer's Disease.

Wikimedia Commons | National Institute on Aging

They can create a plaque that encases nerve cells in the brain. It's known that Alzheimer's patients tend to have higher concentrations of these proteins. It's likely that this plaque messes up signals between brain cells.

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The new study shines a light on how sleep deprivation factors into this.

Medical Xpress | Van Wedeen, M.D.

Researchers published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They determined that sleep deprivation, even just one night's worth, can cause a buildup of these proteins.

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The risk exists regardless of genetics.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

In other words, this buildup occurs whether or not someone has a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's. This means that sleeplessness can cause problems even if you're not at risk for Alzheimer's.

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Bad sleep causes the buildup in areas are Alzheimer's biomarkers are known to exist.

Wikimedia Commons | Marvin 101

It's a big deal because when beta-amyloid proteins are detected in these parts of the brain, it's generally a sign that Alzheimer's could be an issue.

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It's the first time these results have been observed in humans.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Similar findings had been proven in mice before, but this study, which examined 20 healthy adults between the ages of 22 and 72, was the first to demonstrate the effect in humans.

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Scientists also found that not getting enough sleep puts people in a bad mood.

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We already knew that, though.

Still, whether you're focused on the bad mood or long-term risks, there's one lesson here: Sleep is precious, and we should all try to get enough.

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