Shift Workers: Sleep Deprivation May Cause Brain Loss

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  • Cramming in extra hours of shut-eye may not make up for those lost pulling all-nighters, new research indicates. The damage may already be done — brain damage, that is, said neuroscientist Sigrid Veasey from the University of Pennsylvania.

    CNN reports:

    The widely held idea that you can pay back a sizeable “sleep debt” with long naps later on seems to be a myth, she said in a study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience.

    Long-term sleep deprivation saps the brain of power even after days of recovery sleep, Veasey said. And that could be a sign of lasting brain injury.

    Veasey and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania medical school wanted to find out, so, they put laboratory mice on a wonky sleep schedule that mirrors that of shift workers.

    Besides needing more rest, experts hope that these studies will result in medicines that will help people working odd hours cope with the consequences of irregular sleep.

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