Sleep Loss Leads to Brain Damage in Mice (and Maybe Therefore People)

By Gary Cutlack on at

Some poor little lab mice were rudely awakened during the night by researchers, who were looking into the ways missing out on sleep can effect the brain. The shock-horror result was the death of 25 per cent of some types of brain cells in the poor, tired mice.

The test, which was designed to mimic the sleep patterns of shift workers who may only get four or five hours of cranky sleep in a 24 hour period, ended up with the mice permanently losing brain cells in a certain part of the brain stem. It's only stupid mice brains, but still. It might be worth putting your phone in aeroplane mode tonight, just in case.

There's some good news, though, with scientists suggesting it may be possible to create treatments that replace the chemicals the brain misses out on through broken sleep, protecting shift workers and mice who can't stop playing MMORPGs all night from zombifying themselves forever. [BBC]

Image credit: Lab mice from Shutterstock