Losing sleep may cause you to lose brain cells. Researchers say long-term sleep deprivation, like that brought on by so-called shift work, drains energy from the brain even after sleeping extra hours on days off.
The scientists say that can lead to lasting brain injury. They say when we lose a little sleep, nerve cells react and make more of a protein that protects and energizes the cells. But the reaction shuts down when losing sleep becomes a habit. On tests in mice, brain cells started dying off more quickly after just a few days of sleep that mimics shift work schedules. The study is in this week’s edition of the “Journal of Neuroscience.”