Why Skipping Sleep Harms Your Brain

More excellent reasons to get the right amount of sleep every night have been linked to the harm you can do to your brain, according to a Princeton University study on rats.

Scientists compared the physical condition of rats that had been deprived of sleep for 72 hours versus a control group with no sleep restrictions. The physical problems associated with the sleepless rats were obvious: Rats produced fewer new brain cells in their hippocampus and had higher amounts of corticosterone, the stress hormone associated with road rage.

Once corticosterone levels remained at a constant level, however, the lessening of cellular growth in the hippocampus ended. Still, even after the sleepless rats got their rest, it took their bodies two weeks before being able to return to their normal level of brain nerve cell production.

This study should underscore why sleep problems have become increasingly tied to all sorts of fundamental health problems. The good news is you can improve your health and sleep without a drug by implementing some of the solutions featured in my 29 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep manual.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 103, No. 50, December 12, 2006: 19170-19175

Psych Central February 12, 2007

BBC News February 10, 2007