This Is Why Losing Just One Night of Sleep Is Seriously Bad for You

Nothing good happens after 2am anyway.

If you're a night owl who likes to party until dawn, you probably justify staying out at all hours by saying you'll catch up with sleep the following day or the rest of the week.

But, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, losing just one night of sleep leads to an immediate increase of buildup of a plaque in the brain called beta-amyloid, which is considered the prime suspect in the onset of Alzheimer's.

To conduct the study, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) used a PET scan to analyze the brains of 20 healthy people between the ages of 22 and 72 after a good night of sleep, and compared them with the brain scans of those who had been awake for about 31 hours. What they found was that those who had lost a night of sleep had a 5 percent increase of beta-amyloid in their brains, particularly in the thalamus and hippocampus, the areas that are most vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease.

Granted, the sample size of the study was very small, and the researchers did not analyze whether or not it was possible to reverse the buildup by getting extra rest the following day.

However, Drs. Ehsan Shokri-Kojori of the NIAAA Laboratory of Neuroimaging, who led the study, said that "even though our sample was small, this study demonstrated the negative effect of sleep deprivation on beta-amyloid burden in the human brain."

The results are also in keeping with other recent research, such as this study that found that "excessive daytime sleepiness" in cognitively healthy people over 70 can cause dementia due to a buildup of beta-amyloid.

The study is therefore part of a growing body of research that indicates good, consistent sleeping patterns are crucial to your health. In addition to causing dementia, not getting enough sleep can cause weight gain, memory loss, mood imbalance, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and low libido, not to mention increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

For advice on how to get a better night of sleep without resorting to medication, be sure to bone up on the 70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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