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The Brain Literally Starts Eating Itself When It Doesn’t Get Enough Sleep

“Holy Crap.  BEC CREW   26 MAY 2017

“The reason we sleep goes far beyond simply replenishing our energy levels every 12 hours – our brains actually change states when we sleep to clear away the toxic byproducts of neural activity left behind during the day.

“Weirdly enough, the same process starts to occur in brains that are chronically sleep-deprived too – except it’s kicked into hyperdrive. Researchers have found that persistently poor sleep causes the brain to clear a significant amount of neurons and synaptic connections, and recovering sleep might not be able to reverse the damage.

[ . . . . ]

“Like the cells elsewhere in your body, the neurons in your brain are being constantly refreshed by two different types of glial cell – support cells that are often called the glue of the nervous system.

“We’ve known that this process occurs when we sleep to clear away the neurological wear and tear of the day, but now it appears that the same thing happens when we start to lose sleep.

“But rather than being a good thing, the brain goes overboard with the clearing, and starts to harm itself instead.”

[ . . . . ]

You are when you eat.


Ask a few four-year-olds whether they want ONE marshmallow now, or TWO if they can wait just a little while.

Then let the fun begin

The marshmallow experiment is a famous test conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University and discussed by Daniel Goleman in his popular work. In the 1960s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined via surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

And many more . . .

And, of course, the version for mature audiences