According to a new study published in the journal Sleep, sleep deprivation may be the equivalent of traumatic brain injury.

Otherwise Healthy Men May Suffer Brain Damage

The study used 15 young and healthy men who spent two nights in a sleep laboratory. One night, the men were kept without sleep, and the other night they were allowed to sleep about 8 hours. Blood tests were taken after each night, and they were checked for levels of neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100 calcium-binding protein B (S-100B).

The results showed that people experienced a 20% increase in NSE and S-100B after a night without sleep compared to a night with sleep.

How Significant Are Results?

The lead investigator said of the results, “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.” It’s very important to note the way he stated this, because he doesn’t attribute a cause-and-effect relationship between the chemical increases and brain damage. That’s because the data is spotty.

As far as NSE goes, at least one study noted that a significantly higher level of NSE showed coma victims were more likely to have a bad outcome, such as death or permanent vegetative state. However, other studies have noted that NSE is linked with many other types of tissue damage.

S-100B has a similar story, because it can be linked with anything from increased exercise to a broken leg as well as brain trauma.

Although we can’t be sure it’s brain damage that’s resulting here, we know that this isn’t good news for sleep apnea sufferers. With the amount of sleep lost for these patients, it’s likely that if sleep deprivation does lead to brain damage, they will be sufferers.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are looking for a comfortable treatment option that you can use, please contact the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha today.