Sleep Deprivation: A Growing Health Risk?
- Sleep is a critical component of well-being
- In the 1950s, we spent 8 hours sleeping, which has decreased to 6.5 hours
- Sleep deprivation can cause many health issues and affect the hippocampus, a brain region important for remembering names, locations, etc.
- Because humans won’t voluntarily allow sleep deprivation studies, researchers use rodents
- They explore objects to test spatial memory and if deprived of sleep, perform worse than if allowed to sleep
- Sleep deprivation affects the number of connections between neurons in the hippocampus.
Investigating the Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Hippocampus in Mice and Humans
- Sleep deprivation can cause an imbalance in the hippocampus, with a dramatic loss of spines (30%) due to the demolition crew becoming overly active
- To understand this process further, the cytoskeleton was investigated and it was determined that it is essential for maintaining connections between neurons
- Experiments were conducted to block these negative regulators and improve functionality of the hippocampus, even during sleep deprivation
- This was proven successful as the mice trained in an object location box still remembered where objects were placed despite lack of sleep
- The next step is research into humans to see if chronic sleep restriction causes similar effects in the hippocampus.
Investigating Sleep Fragmentation and Memory Issues in Aging: Potential Links to Alzheimers Disease and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Research suggests that sleep fragmentation, lighter sleeping, more waking, and memory problems are associated with aging
- Investigations into whether these imbalances are linked to Alzheimer’s Disease and Autism Spectrum Disorders is being conducted
- In a few years, further results could be available.