Lack of sleep may cause the brain to stop producing new cells. A study on rats showed that lack of sleep caused a stress hormone to affect the hippocampus, a brain region involved in forming memories.
Rats who were deprived of sleep for 72 hours had higher levels of the stress hormone corticosterone, and as a result produced significantly fewer new brain cells in a region of the hippocampus.
When corticosterone levels were kept at a constant level, the hippocampus produced a normal amount of new cells.After the animals were restored to normal sleep patterns, it took two weeks for nerve cell production levels to normalize.
A good night's sleep is one of the absolute essential requirements for being healthy. You can have a perfect diet, have no stress, and be physically fit, but if you aren't sleeping well you will simply not be healthy.
This study provides additional confirmation as to why you need to get the right amount of sleep every night -- not doing so can harm your brain because of elevated levels of corticosterone, the stress hormone associated with road rage.
This study underscores why sleep problems have become increasingly tied to all sorts of fundamental health problems. When your body becomes stressed, it releases hormones that cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Also, your muscles get tense, your digestive processes stop and certain brain centers are triggered, which alter your brain chemistry.
Left unchecked, this stress response can eventually lead to a variety of health problems including:
On Vital Votes, Pam from Wilbraham, Massachusetts adds: