Study: Too little sleep affects teen brains
A new study finds that a lack of sleep in adolescent mice upsets the growth and retraction of the rodents' synapses.
Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Photo: ZUMA Press
Not getting enough sleep during your teenage years may affect on how your brain wires itself in the future.
A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison performed short-term sleep restrictions on adolescent mice and observed that the lack of sleep upset the balance between the growth and depletion of brain synapses.
Dr. Chiara Cirelli, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and Public Health, is one of the authors of the study.
"One possible implication of our study is that if you lose too much sleep during adolescence, especially chronically, there may be lasting consequences in terms of the wiring of the brain," Dr. Cirelli said in a news release about the study.
Cirelli and her colleagues followed the growth and retraction of synapses by counting dendritic spines that contain synapses.
The dendritic spines of three sets of mice compared included mice that were randomly woken up by researchers over an eight to 10 hour period, mice that were allowed to sleep and mice that were forced to stay awake.
Researchers found that the overall density of the dendritic spines lessened during sleep and rose during random awakenings or being kept awake.
"These results using acute manipulations of just eight to 10 hours show that the time spent asleep or awake affects how many synapses are being formed or removed in the adolescent brain," Cirelli said in the news release. "The important next question is what happens with chronic sleep restriction, a condition that many adolescents are often experiencing."
The National Institute of Mental Health funded the study.
The study appears in the Oct. 9 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.