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Communications Medicine Science

Sleep Deprivation Disrupts Brain-Cell Communication, Study Finds (npr.org) 87

A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine found that sleep deprivation causes the bursts of electrical activity that brain cells use to communicate to become slower and weaker. "The finding could help explain why a lack of sleep impairs a range of mental functions, says Dr. Itzhak Fried, an author of the study and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles," reports NPR. From the report: The finding comes from an unusual study of patients being evaluated for surgery to correct severe epilepsy. As part of the evaluation, doctors place wires in the brain to find out where a patient's seizures are starting. That allows Fried and a team of scientists to monitor hundreds of individual brain cells, often for days. And because patients with epilepsy are frequently kept awake in order to provoke a seizure, the scientists had an ideal way to study the effects of sleep deprivation. In the study, all the patients agreed to categorize images of faces, places and animals. Each image caused cells in areas of the brain involved in perception to produce distinctive patterns of electrical activity. Then, four of the patients stayed up all night before looking at more images. And in these patients, "the neurons are responding slower," Fried says. "The responses are diminished, and they are smeared over longer periods of time." These changes impair the cells' ability to communicate, Fried says. And that leads to mental lapses that can affect not only perception but memory.
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Sleep Deprivation Disrupts Brain-Cell Communication, Study Finds

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  • ... me to get any sleep with all those brain cells chattering back and forth?

  • Good news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @10:47PM (#55503965) Journal

    Sleep is one of my favorite things to do. My wife thinks I'm crazy because I always insist on a very expensive mattress and sheets and stuff. Duvet covers, shit like that. But man, when I hit the rack at night, I sleep like a little baby boy. Still wake up with a boner, even at my advanced age.

    Seriously, listen up you younger Slashdotters: Do not neglect your sleep. Sleep long enough to get dreams, because dreams, even nightmares, are really good for you. In fact, I've noticed that when I have one of those nightmares where you jump straight off the bed gasping, I go on to have a really good day. I don't know about the science of all that, but you want dreams. Unfortunately, the dreams you want seem to come at the end of your sleep, but you have to have had a long enough uninterrupted sleep.

    Go to bed a little early tonight and enjoy.

    • by Psion ( 2244 )
      Amen, Pope!
    • Seriously, listen up you younger Slashdotters: Do not neglect your sleep. Sleep long enough to get dreams,

      I've always been a five hour a night person. And it's five hours after I hit the hay, doesn't matter if I hit it at 9 p.m. or 2 a.m.

      Dreaming can be a lot of fun - although in my typical OC form, I dream answers to problems I'm working on. For me "Let me sleep on it" is very literal.

      I don't think my mind works the same as 99 percent of humanity.

      Anyhow, if my non-healthy sleep habits haven't killed me by now, they either won't or have already done their damage.

      Side note - after my better half needed

      • I dream answers to problems I'm working on.

        That's useful. I usually dream about banging Bayonetta or showing up to my PhD thesis defense stark naked.

        Anyhow, if my non-healthy sleep habits haven't killed me by now, they either won't or have already done their damage.

        I used to think like that. Before I got married I used to close the punk clubs in Chicago and get up at 7am for work. Somewhere along the way, I learned how much more I can do if I sleep.

        Great for my old Hockey injuries too.

        I once dreamed, d

        • That's useful. I usually dream about banging Bayonetta or showing up to my PhD thesis defense stark naked.

          I'm a Sophia Vergara guy myself. Most non-problem solving dreams are what I call adventure dreams. I'm wandering around some landscape and finding things. I recall a few naked in public dreams from a long time ago, like teenager years.

          I once dreamed, during the Blackhawks 2013 Stanley Cup run, that I had skated out onto the ice in goal in place of Corey Crawford, only to realize I was naked. A psychiatrist could have a field day with me.

          Acch! Whatever you do, don't fall down, especially front first! But naked and in goal, I can only figure that you must have been really nervous about something.

        • Bayonetta. Thanks man....I will never un-see that.

      • I worked as a water plant operator with rotating shifts and started sleeping four hours at a time. I was always wasted from fatigue and could barely function at work or with friends. One beer or cocktail would knock me out. I would be awake all night when I wasn't at work.
        • I worked as a water plant operator with rotating shifts and started sleeping four hours at a time. I was always wasted from fatigue and could barely function at work or with friends. One beer or cocktail would knock me out. I would be awake all night when I wasn't at work.

          Horrid situation. One of my first jobs was at a electronics manufacturing facility, swing shifting and we worked a 4 day 10 hour day schedule.

          I still did my 5 hours, but yeah, it was a bad existence. I recall a friend introducing me to Boilermakers at 7 in the morning (drop a shot of whiskey into a beer for those not familiar.) Some folks can handle it many can't.

          I think that shift workers and their messed up sleep habits are probably much worse on a person then the number of hours slept. I know my r

    • Sleep is one of my favorite things to do. My wife thinks I'm crazy because I always insist on a very expensive mattress and sheets and stuff. Duvet covers, shit like that.

      You spend over 1/3 of your life there. It's worth spending money on I agree.

      Still wake up with a boner, even at my advanced age.

      Bro... too much information (hey slashdotters with modpoints can I get an insightful mod for that? seriously it's true).

    • I'll give some advice here on how to have excellent dreams;- Write them down. I keep a phone next to my bed, and every morning if I wake up with a dream I write it down and post it. Everybody loves that shit, shaynes brains crazy adventures in time and spacel. The thing is, theres science . behind it. Your dreams happen mostly in short term memory space. Your brain generally wont transfer it into long term memory because its all untrue nonsense facts, BUT if you CHOSE to remember it, it will actually get fi

    • Sleep is one of my favorite things to do. My wife thinks I'm crazy because I always insist on a very expensive mattress and sheets and stuff. Duvet covers, shit like that. But man, when I hit the rack at night, I sleep like a little baby boy. Still wake up with a boner, even at my advanced age.

      Seriously, listen up you younger Slashdotters: Do not neglect your sleep. Sleep long enough to get dreams, because dreams, even nightmares, are really good for you. In fact, I've noticed that when I have one of those nightmares where you jump straight off the bed gasping, I go on to have a really good day. I don't know about the science of all that, but you want dreams. Unfortunately, the dreams you want seem to come at the end of your sleep, but you have to have had a long enough uninterrupted sleep.

      Go to bed a little early tonight and enjoy.

      As someone that has a hard time sleeping more than 6 hours, I can attest this to be true.

      Most of us in this industry get by with 6 or 5 (sometimes less) hours of sleep a day. It is a shitty way to do things.

      I'm always at my sharpest when I sleep more than 6 hours for several days in a row. I can get by when I only sleep 6 hours most days, but I can see, I can almost measure the deleterious effect it has in one's cognitive performance.

    • Go to bed a little early tonight and enjoy.

      Enjoy what, staring at the ceiling?

      At this rate I'll be brain-dead by next Thursday.

    • Still wake up with a boner, even at my advanced age.

      That has little to do with age:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Too late. I am old. :P Boner after you wake up? LOL. I have had that a few times. Very rare. I hate it when I pee in my sleep though! :(

    • In other news...Adderal causes the electrical energy in the brain to fire stronger and faster. ...but you can't have that, it's dangerous and the scarcity through regulation makes me too much money.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      I don't know about the science of all that, but you want dreams.

      It's worth studying your dreams, you will learn more about yourself than you know and it is a very effective way of interpreting what your subconscious is telling you. You don't have time to process everything consciously so it helps a lot with interpersonal relationships, I have found, if you have the courage to face what it tells you about yourself. Inner truths.

      Start with an online dream dictionary, you won't regret it.

  • and constant lack of sleep may make it a long lasting effect

    no shit, how much did that grant cost me

    • and constant lack of sleep may make it a long lasting effect

      no shit, how much did that grant cost me

      The importance of the study is that it characterizes the effect in a way that can be replicated, and then used for further study. For example, the effect drugs have on the subject, or different types of sleep.

      It might also help in validating or invalidating specific hypotheses.

      For example, there is a hypothesis that neurotransmitters evolved from nutrient sources. The theory goes that when simple organisms ate something there was a wash of nutrients (such as glucose) throughout the system. Evolution then g

      • No one seems to mention that the sample for this study has no control.

        They only tested people with epilepsy.

        I would like to see this repeated in a group without epilepsy, and in a group of people who self report sleeping 1-3 hours a night without experiencing sleep deprivation issues.

        After that we might have something to talk about.

  • I onli slept an our last nidgt im doing ook!
  • For fuck sake, I knew that when I was, like, six.

    I'm wondering if the people who come up with this stuff are thinking that if they say something sufficiently mind-numbingly obvious, that everyone's brain will still be too numb to realize that what they are saying has actually been common knowledge for generations.

    • For fuck sake, I knew that when I was, like, six.

      I'm wondering if the people who come up with this stuff are thinking that if they say something sufficiently mind-numbingly obvious, that everyone's brain will still be too numb to realize that what they are saying has actually been common knowledge for generations.

      I think its because a lot of people think they can cheat their sleep. A person needs what they need. A good rule of thumb is if you need an alarm clock every day.

      What I don't buy into is the idea that everyone needs 8 hours. Most do. I don't. I sleep 5. I go to bed, and 5 hours later I wake up with no alarm clock, feeling refreshed. Only way to get me to sleep 8 is to drug me - or if I have a cold.

      The weird thing is not how many people don't believe me, but how their first response is to get pissed off

      • That's why they do these studies, so when people say "oh I only need 5 hours" instead of "I have a sleep disorder, I wonder how much smarter I'd be if I managed to find a way to sleep more" they can read the study and realize how much "I'm different" hogwash people spout on the issue.

        The study doesn't say "maybe 5 hours is the same as 8." Do a study and try to prove that; lots of researchers have done studies starting from that idea. Did the results support it?

        • That's why they do these studies, so when people say "oh I only need 5 hours" instead of "I have a sleep disorder, I wonder how much smarter I'd be if I managed to find a way to sleep more" they can read the study and realize how much "I'm different" hogwash people spout on the issue.

          The study doesn't say "maybe 5 hours is the same as 8." Do a study and try to prove that; lots of researchers have done studies starting from that idea. Did the results support it?

          A person needs what they need. Tell me though, how is the fact that I've only slept 5 hours a night since I was a teenager indicate that I have a sleep disorder?

          If I get less than 5, I feel like crap. And aren't sleep disorders supposed to have symptoms? When I get tired, I go to bed, I wake up feeling good. I certanly have none of the problems that are classified as sleep disorder. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Most people need more sleep than I do. Some a lot more. Demanding that if a person doe

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @01:56AM (#55504427)

      Oh look a six year old neuro surgeon. Have you cured cancer yet? I mean if you knew this when you were six you should have countless peer reviewed papers to your name by now along with a very detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the brain.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        My point was not to appear to be boastful about how allegedly brilliant I was when I was a child... my point was that I it is evident enough that even a six-year old child could understand this concept entirely well. They might not know all of the science or the details behind exactly how the synaptic nerves in the brain communicate, but the fact that a lack of sleep impairs mental function is something that anyone is going to be able to easily witness, and experience firsthand for themselves, enabling th
        • by deego ( 587575 )

          There's a difference between "Oh, it makes sense" and an actual peer-reviewed scientific study with, you know, actual probes and measurement of signals and shit.

          Until the latter happens, it's just a hunch, not a proven study. And, you cannot point to a scientific paper as a citation.

          Unfortunately, every time someone conducts a proper study, you will always see "zomg it was obivous" posts like yours.

        • And yet those children grow up and walk around saying, "oh, everybody is different, so when I undersleep I'm not any stoopidr. This is about those Other People who weren't born like me with bonus hours."

          It apparently isn't as easy to understand as you think!

        • my point was that I it is evident enough that even a six-year old child could understand this concept entirely well.

          Water is wet. Now go about the process of explaining exactly why that is, without going through the fact that it is while doing so. In order to understand something one must first characterise it in detail.

          So tell me, how does your six year old self characterise the theta waves that represent wakefulness? Tell me how your six year old self showed that the effect has a universal form on memory, categorisation, as well as fine motor skills. Tell me about how your six year old self understood the concept that

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )
            Sure... except that this study didn't actually discover exactly *why* the physiological changes cause impairment, it only discovered exactly what those physiological changes are, and rightly concluded that they are responsible for the impairment that one experiences due to lack of sleep. That's isomorphically identical to the plainly obvious fact that people don't think as well when they are tired, and people get tired from a lack of sleep in the first place.
  • Not only does sleep disruption play a role in the declining mental abilities that typify Alzheimerâ(TM)s disease, but getting enough sleep is one of the most important factors determining whether you will develop the condition in the future.

    https://www.newscientist.com/a... [newscientist.com]

  • by yes-but-no ( 4133651 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @06:39AM (#55504917)
    What I found is what you really need is darkness; keep your visual-cortex off. You don't have to really sleep - I have stayed in darkness for say 2 hours and sleep only say 6 hours and feel refreshed next day. With the invention of light bulb, humans lost this darkness.
    It's like powering down the most power hungry chip -- the visual processing unit. You can think or even use the auditory cortex (listen to music say). That is ..say 3 bits on/off VAT (visual/audio/thoughts) .. having 0xx for like 8 hours a night is good enough for you to feel refreshed. [ie stay in darkness.. ok to think ..ok to sing..ok to listen.. but retina is not exposed to any light stimulus)
    • I went through a couple of years when I blacked out everything. If I saw the slightest bit of light through a window or even my router I covered them up until everything was completely dark. It's actually quite amazing how bright some LEDs are once you make everything else dark. Suddenly even my alarm clock seemed too bright. That's one of the few things I let shine in the darkness so maybe I didn't go far enough.

      I didn't find that it actually helped me sleep better. Often just leaving the TV on wi

      • As I was saying, I don't need to sleep; I only need to keep my visual-cortex off. The way I test myself is how energized/refreshed I feel the next day. If I feel refreshed with 6 hours sleep with 2 hours darkness (when I'm just lying in bed not sleeping..may be listen to music), then it's good for me. My body is very good at telling me the next day is it okay to leave the bed..(it even stays a bit warm if I try to get out early) - so I know that 6 hours was enough given the two extra hours of darkness.
  • No laughing matter (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @07:22AM (#55505009)
    Seriously, sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of health problems. Sleep is the time when your body heals and repairs damage during the day. Depriving yourself of this is a bad thing. I have started to feel better since getting a sleep apnea machine and I am sure I will feel even better once I get this extra weight off.
  • This is why I feel sleepy when I don't sleep!
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Other symptoms include cold intolerance, inexplicable hunger, weight gain, frequent colds and infections, and the need to self-medicate with coffee to avoid afternoon brain fuzz.

      I had all these symptoms, and my doctor ordered a thyroid test which came back negative. He threw up his hands and said I was just getting older. A few years later I saw a respiratory specialist to look into my snoring, which had been getting worse. The sleep study came back with borderline sleep apnea; just on the edge of what w

  • Coffee reverses this, though, right?
  • I didn't read the pay-walled study, but the article and /. post didn't mention a control group.
    Maybe the repeated same activity was slowed down over those channels because the exercise had already been done, new paths were created and the brain didn't need to follow the old route anymore. I would want to know the difference from repeating an activity the next day, vs doing it the next day with sleep.

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