Healthy brains require healthy sleep.
Really, you can’t fudge on this. At least not for long.
This cool study looked at zebrafish (fun in itself.) The researchers determined that normal wakefulness caused damage to DNA in nervous system cells. That makes sense; life involves wear and tear.
The interesting finding, though, was that sleep turned on the zebrafishes’ DNA repair mechanisms. Those mechanisms were less active during daytime, when the damage was occurring.
Scientists are still figuring out how all the pieces work together. But from a daily human perspective it makes the same kind of sense as repairing major highways at night: Get the work done while traffic is low.
Potholes on the highway are tough on your car and diminish its useful life. The same is true for potholes in our brains’ DNA — but replacements are harder to come by.
How much sleep is enough? Zebrafish can’t tell us what humans need. But generally speaking, anything less than seven hours per night diminishes our ability to function crisply.
Want to get your best rest? Download my free Sound Sleep Cheat Sheet. I did a deeper dive in my recent class, Sleep 101, and the recording is available now.
If you’d like customized sleep help, telemedicine appointments are available for folks in Oregon and Alaska. Click the button below to make an appointment.
Citation: Zada D, Bornshtein I, Lerer-Goldshtein T, Garini Y, Applebaum L. Sleep increases chromosome dynamics to enable reduction of accumulating DNA damage in single neurons. Nature Communications. 2019;10:895