Sleep may protect your brain


What happens if you miss one night of sleep? The answer could be worse than you imagine – here’s another reason to sleep well at night.

New research from Uppsala University, Sweden, shows that one night of sleep deprivation leads to signs of acute brain damage. Substances that are normally found inside the nerve cells can be detected in the blood. This suggests that nerve cells have died during the sleepless night: Sleep to protect your brain

Do you want to be as smart you can be? Then prioritize sleeping well.


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  1. Tom Welsh
    But surely, in the absence of any quantitative data at all, the conclusions as presented are not convincing. Is the amount of material found in the blood equivalent to 2-3 brain cells oozing a little, or the massive destruction of whole swathes of tissue?

    Common sense suggests that evolution would not have equipped us with such a fragile brain. After all, who knows when a human being might be compelled to remain awake for many hours? I am interested, but far from persuaded.

  2. Jan
    Well to me a healthy lifestyle is:

    Eating real food low carb high fat moderate protein

    Throw in some exercise, My favourite is walking

    Plus a good sleep pattern, 7 - 8 hours suits me

    Speaking personally ... I find if my sleep pattern is good then how I feel is brilliant. If for some reason it isn't I do not 'operate' at the same level.

    Of course we all 'do' what best suits us but for me the above works well.

    Have a good sleep tonight !

    All the best Jan

  3. sten
    What about if one has high ketone levels like over 2 around the clock ?
    The brain seems to run better that way and my hours of sleep are much fewer, and both dementia and epilepsi seem to do better on it.
    Any stats available at all?
    Reply: #8
  4. Sarah
    So it is funnny that you mention I got maybe 4 hours of sleep last night try as I might to get more. I have neighbors that are incredibly noisy. Regardless, my brain "feels" like it is not working as well...although I am guessing that is the sleep deprevation talking. My big question on this would be do said possibly "killed" brain cells regenerate if you then get normal sleep for a good length of time or would each day that you skip sleep cause permenate damage. Would love to see more research done.
    Reply: #5
  5. sten
    Sarah, brain cells do regenerate. Before this recent discovery we were told the opposite by
    authorities on subject matter which should make us wonder again and again what the foundation of established truths are.
    Anyway read this encouraging extract on just HOW brain cells can be regenerated and it is now even a name for the process: "neurogenesis", something at least I can do with more of!

    "...In addition to supplying a superior source of energy, ketones improve blood flow to the brain, improving circulation and oxygen delivery. Ketones also activate certain proteins in the brain: brain derived neurotrophic factors (BDNFs) that regulate brain cell repair, growth, and maintenance. BDNFs stimulate repair of damaged tissues, promote the growth of new brain cells, remove toxins, stop oxidative stress, calm inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity, all of which allow the brain to heal and recover from injury—including alcohol induced injury."

    The citation is from an piece that initially looked unrelated but was found to be highly realted and also very interesting, dealing with the reasons for and subsequent initial and successful cures of alcoholism. It does not mention LCHF although it now to me seems a superior alternative once associated ketone levels are elevated over at least 2 mmol/L.

    Here is an extract from David Perlmutters book "Grain Brain" from 2013.
    "...These ketone bodies are profoundly neuroprotective. They decrease free radical production in the brain, increase mitochondrial biogenesis, and stimulate production of brain-related antioxidants. Furthermore, ketones block the apoptotic pathway that would otherwise lead to self-destruction of brain cells."

  6. laza
    The research is too incomplete. Imagine such scientific news from a few decades ago, if blogs like this one existed back then...

    Sloth may protect your muscle!

    What happens if you miss one day of sloth? The answer could be worse than you imagine – here’s another reason to be largely inactive during the day.

    New research from Uppsala University, Sweden, shows that one day of intense physical exercise leads to signs of acute muscular damage. Substances that are normally found inside the muscle cells can be detected in the blood. This suggests breaking down of muscle fibers during a physically challenging day.

    Do you want to be as strong as you can be? Then prioritize being physically inactive and unchallenged well.

  7. Sher

    I like to keep up with the latest books on low carb, so while on (U.S.), I googled low carb high fat+2014. Guess what I saw staring back at me?

    Low Carb, High Fat Food Revolution: Advice and Recipes to Improve Your Health and Reduce Your Weight by Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt.

    I am so excited about this! Please forgive me if this has been mentioned before on this blog, but I haven't seen it. Yes, it's coming out in October, and I've already pre-ordered it! ha ha! I want mine NOW!

    Thank you Dr. for finally giving us a book. Your generosity in giving us the guidelines in the section LCHF for Beginners has helped me immensely. Now I cannot wait to get my hands on your book!

  8. Murray
    Sten, I have also noticed I don't need as much sleep when I sustain ketosis.

    I read some recent research on the glymphatic system in the brain during sleep, which in essence clears out cellular trash. The neurons apparently shrink during sleep to facilitate the flow, which is inefficient during waking hours. With continual ketosis and mitochondria in the brain burning ketones, there would be higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione and indeed fewer free radicals generated by mitochondria burning ketones instead of glucose. So with less free radical damage, the task of the glymphatic system would be eased. It is interesting that a Mayo Clinic study found that those who ate the most carbs had 3.6 times the rate of signs of dementia than average and that those who ate the most fat, less than half the average. Similarly, studies have shown that lower average blood sugar correlates with a lower rate of annual loss of brain mass.

    One might also plausibly hypothesize that ketones enhance the effectiveness of the glymphatic process, either as alternative energy or as some signalling agent. More studies are showing ketones have signalling functions consistent with ketosis being a restoration mode of the metabolism, as compared to glucose-driven metabolism. This is consistent with Dr. Cynthia Kenyon's work on insulin and aging.

    Whatever the reason, I find I don't need as much sleep and wake mentally alert, especially if I have a good hit of ketone-fuelling MCT oil just before retiring to bed.

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