The need for sleep goes far beyond simply replenishing our energy levels every 12 hours. Our brains actually change states when we sleep to clear away the toxic byproducts of neural activity left behind during the day.
Weirdly enough, the same process starts to occur in brains that are chronically sleep-deprived too – except it’s kicked into hyperdrive.
Researchers have found that persistently poor sleep causes the brain to clear a significant amount of neurons and synaptic connections, and recovering sleep might not be able to reverse the damage.
A team led by neuroscientist Michele Bellesi from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy examined the mammalian brain’s response to poor sleeping habits, and found a bizarre similarity between the well-rested and sleepless mice.
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