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Over in Italy, a pioneering group of minds has determined that yours is eating itself due to lack of sleep. What are you doing up that late, anyway? Hmm?
I’m writing this on little sleep, so it’s not going to be very good. It’s my brain, you see. It’s taken to eating itself in protest of its owner starving it, by keeping it up most of the night. I regret nothing, it works for me. Except, I kind of miss the ability of being able to transport the words in my brain to the words on the thingo.
According to horn-rimmed glasses of Internet science, accompanied by a something of very tired-looking mice…what’s the collective term for that? A “yawn” – I’m going with it…there is a link between burning the candle at both ends, and flaming your frontal cortex.
Michele Bellesi, from the Marche Polytechnic University, rudely woke up a series of mice at varied times of the day in order to prove his hypothesis, against the control group of those who were forbidden to sleep for five days. I certainly hope I don’t get reincarnated as a lab rat, being prodded awake by Italians. Dannazione.
During the process, Bellesi’s team were monitoring a certain cell. The glial cell ostensibly works as the brain’s housekeeper, which is ironic, because it’s another force that wakes you up. In fact, there are two offshoots of the aforementioned cell: the astrocyte, which prunes unnecessary synapses in the brain to remodel its wiring, and the microglial cell, which prowls the brain for damaged cells and debris. The activity of these cells is more active during a period of sleep deprivation.
Short term, there is no problem with it. It’s like a brain detox. However, much like a regular detox, continuing for an extended period of time spells trouble – and no friends when you continually point out that yes, I’m still on the detox thing, wah wah wah. “We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” Bellesi pointed out. “We already know that sustained microglial activation has been observed in Alzheimer’s and other forms of neurodegeneration”.
So, the lesson here, apparently, is get more sleep. But also stay up late. But not too late.