134 healthy volunteers volunteered to suffer for the good of science
One sleepless night can turn into two years of aging for the brain, this is the conclusion of an international team of neuroscientists and somnologists.
134 healthy volunteers, 42 women and 92 men, volunteered to suffer for the good of science, whose average age was 25 years. The subjects were divided into three groups. Some were deprived of sleep for 24 hours altogether. Others were given 3 hours of sleep a night, while the third group had a 5-hour sleep schedule for five nights. Each time, indicators of brain activity were measured using MRI, and several cycles of such tests were performed. Indicators of brain age after sleep deprivation were compared with baseline data, those collected in the awake and active state after full sleep.
It turned out that with complete sleep deprivation for 24 hours, the morphological age of the brain in the experiment participants increased in terms of 1-2 years. True, if immediately after a sleepless night people were allowed to sleep, then their age indicators of changes in the volume of tissues and fluid in the brain returned to the original. At the same time, conditional brain age did not change as significantly with acute sleep deprivation (3 hours of sleep one night) or chronic partial sleep restriction (5 hours in bed for five nights).
“Our study provides new evidence that sleep loss affects the entire brain in a similar way to aging,” the scientists conclude.
Previous research on the relationship between sleep and health has shown that insomnia is often associated with obesity. Sleep deprivation significantly reduces activity in areas of the brain responsible for assessing feelings of hunger and fullness, which can stimulate cravings for high-calorie foods after sleepless nights.