Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sleep For Your Brain

Losing sleep may cause the brain to stop producing new brain cells, a study conducted by New Jersey's Princeton University has found.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science research on rats found that the hippocampus portion of the brain was directly affected by a lack of sleep for a long period, the BBC reported.

By depriving rats of sleep for 72 hours, the researchers found that those animals consequently had increased amounts of the stress hormone corticosterone, and produced significantly fewer new brain cells in the hippocampus.

When the rats' sleep patterns were returned to normal a week later, their levels of nerve-cell production remained hindered for two weeks.

The lack of production appeared to prompt the brain to increase its efforts to maintain an appropriate balance.

British sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley called the finding "interesting," but said more study on sleep depravation might be useful.

"It would be interesting to see if partial sleep deprivation -- getting a little bit less sleep every night than you need -- had the same effect," he told the BBC.

NewsTrack - Science
TRENTON, N.J., Feb. 10 (UPI)

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