Why Skipping Sleep Harms Your Brain

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March 01, 2007 | 26,112 views

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:

The good news is you can improve your health and sleep without a drug by implementing some of the solutions featured in my 29 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep manual.

On Vital Votes, Pam from Wilbraham, Massachusetts adds:

"In addition to the right amount of sleep, the quality of that sleep is vital to one's health.  I learned this valuable lesson when I decided to try some of the helpful hints that Dr. Mercola had posted previously.

"I had always slept with a light on, thinking that I was far less likely to injure myself by falling in the complete darkness.  To my surprise the quality and depth of my sleep vastly improved in the complete darkness and I awoke feeling rejuvenated instead of sluggish.

"Our body has an amazing capacity for healing if we will just give it a chance."

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