Sleep deprivation can cause brain to start ‘eating’ itself


—File Photo

According to a new study by researchers at the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy A lack of sleep can cause parts of the brain’s synapses to be ‘eaten’ by other brain cells.

Astrocytes are a cell in the brain that clean out worn-out cells and debris. Scientists studying the brains of mice found these cells were more active when the animals had been deprived of sleep, breaking down more of the brain’s connections.

Research leader Michele Bellesi said “We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,”

He said however, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as most of the synapses affected were larger and more mature: “They are like old pieces of furniture, and so probably need more attention and cleaning.”—Radio Pakistan