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Lose Sleep, Lose Brain Cells?

Do you have problems falling and staying asleep?

You're not alone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.

But did you know you might be losing brain cells from lack of sleep?

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania placed mice on different sleep schedules to study the effect it had on their brains. What they found was somewhat surprising.

Not only did the lack of sleep prove to be damaging, the outcomes turned out to be worse than expected. Lack of sleep increases oxidative stress and kills neurons.

The researchers broke up the mice into three sleeping groups: those that mimicked shift workers, one group was allowed to sleep normal and the last group was kept up past their typical sleep schedule for a short period of time.

The group that experienced short-term sleeps deprivation, where the mice were woken up on occasion, produced a protein from a gene called SERT Type-3. The mice representing the shift workers did not produce this protein and through extensive amounts of sleep deprivation the alertness and brain function was also damaged. In fact, these mice lost about 25 percent of brain cells.

Protect your brain with these tips before getting some shut eye:

Dr. Mike discusses the sleep study, what this means for those who have trouble sleeping and ways you can get better sleep.