Sleep is an important contributor to overall brain health. Sleep disorders are linked to a variety of neurological and other health problems. If you suspect a sleep disorder, it is important to get an evaluation from a Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialist.
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“Today’s youth are also at tremendous risk for long-term, sleep-related health impacts. Sleep-related disorders are on the rise, creeping upward among older workers and becoming staggeringly common in young adults. We’ve long known that sleep is crucial to good health: Bodies subjected to sleep deprivation undergo an ugly metamorphosis until they are in many ways fundamentally different from their sufficiently-slept counterparts. A study published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)showed that chronic sleep deprivation caused “shifts” in the expression levels of more than 700 genes. “Many of these [genes] are related to inflammation and immune and stress response, and overlap with the program of gene expression that is generally associated with high stress levels,” explains Malcolm von Schantz, a researcher at the University of Surrey who helped conduct the PNAS study.
Sleep loss has tremendous cognitive consequences: Dozens of studies have connected lack of sleep to deficits ranging from poor insight formation to diminished working memory. Chronic sleep deprivation is also associated with increased mortality and especially obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and impaired cognitive function, says von Schantz. REM sleep in particular is needed for maintaining brain cells: “Brain cells are some of the few cells in our bodies that we retain throughout our lives,” says Czeisler. “We store our memories, and through their complicated architecture, they are difficult to replace.” Sleep is when toxins accumulated by the body get flushed out of the brain—including big-name baddies like amyloid beta, the plaque that, if it builds up, eventually causes Alzheimer’s.”