Lack of sleep causes brain damage

1 January 2014

A new study from Uppsala University, Sweden, shows that one night of sleep deprivation increases morning blood concentrations of chemicals derived from brain tissue.

The two chemicals, neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100 calcium binding protein B (S-100B) are typically found in the brain. Fifteen normal-weight men participated in the study in which they were sleep-deprived for one night and compared to sleeping for approximately 8 hours.

“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”, says sleep researcher Christian Benedict at the Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, who lead the study. “In conclusion, the findings of our trial indicate that a good night’s sleep may be critical for maintaining brain health."


Benedict C, et al. Acute sleep deprivation increases serum levels of neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100 calcium binding protein B (S-100B) in healthy young men. SLEEP (in press).


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