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All Nighters Cause Similar Brain Damage As Blows To The Head

Update Date: Jan 02, 2014 03:13 PM EST

Pulling an all-nighter may be just as bad as being hit in the head, according to a new study.

Swedish researchers from Uppsala University found that staying awake all night causes changes in the brain comparable to those that happen after a blow to the head.

The latest study linked one night of sleep deprivation to a spike in morning blood concentrations of NSE and S-100B in healthy young men. While the level in these molecules after sleep deprivation are not as high as levels after head injuries, researchers said the increase is still significant.  

Researchers explained that the brain clears itself of toxic substances, and NSE and S-100B increase in response to these substances. Researchers said the new study supports previous findings suggesting that the brain flushes out toxins during sleep. Researchers believe that the latest findings may also supports previous research linking lack of sleep to an increased risk of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.

"We observed that a night of total sleep loss was followed by increased blood concentrations of NSE and S-100B. These brain molecules typically rise in blood under conditions of brain damage. Thus, our results indicate that a lack of sleep may promote neurodegenerative processes," lead researcher Christian Benedict at the Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University said in a news release.

"In conclusion, the findings of our trial indicate that a good night's sleep may be critical for maintaining brain health," added Benedict.

The findings are published in the journal Sleep.

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