Less sleep ‘af­fects brain’

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS -

SLEEP depri­va­tion dis­rupts brain cell com­mu­ni­ca­tion in much the same way as al­co­hol, re­search has shown.

Ex­hausted neu­rons re­spond more slowly than usual and take longer to trans­mit weaker sig­nals, a study found.

Tired brain cells ex­plain why a poor night’s sleep is so likely to lead to mem­ory lapses and poor con­cen­tra­tion the next day, sci­en­tists be­lieve.

Re­searchers tested 12 tired epilep­tic pa­tients who had elec­trodes im­planted into their brains to pin­point the ori­gin of their seizures.

Pro­fes­sor Itzhak Fried, from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Los An­ge­les, said: “We dis­cov­ered that starv­ing the body of sleep also robs neu­rons of the abil­ity to func­tion prop­erly.

“This paves the way for cog­ni­tive lapses in how we per­ceive and re­act to the world around us.

“In­ad­e­quate sleep ex­erts a sim­i­lar in­flu­ence on our brain as drink­ing too much. Yet no le­gal or med­i­cal stan­dards ex­ist for iden­ti­fy­ing over-tired driv­ers on the road the same way we tar­get drink-driv­ers.”

The study par­tic­i­pants were asked to stay awake all night to speed up the on­set of an epilep­tic episode be­fore un­der­go­ing surgery. Lack of sleep is known to trig­ger seizures in vul­ner­a­ble in­di­vid­u­als.

For the test, the pa­tients had to cat­e­gorise a va­ri­ety of im­ages as fast as pos­si­ble while the im­plants recorded their brain ac­tiv­ity.

Lack of sleep caused the neu­rons to re­spond to vis­ual stim­u­lus slug­gishly, the sci­en­tists re­ported in the jour­nal Na­ture Medicine. They also fired weakly and their trans­mis­sions dragged on longer than nor­mal.

The same ef­fects were likely to oc­cur when a sleepy mo­torist no­tices a pedes­trian step­ping into the road, said the re­searchers.

The team also dis­cov­ered “slow” brain waves sim­i­lar to those that oc­cur dur­ing sleep in tired re­gions of the brain.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.