Not getting enough sleep may set you up for brain damage
We know sleep is necessary to clear toxins from the brain. Researchers just showed that even after one night of sleep deprivation, brain cells (astrocytes) that eat up connections between nerve cells become more active. This, in itself, may be an adaptive and necessary response to sleep loss. It is possible that this may actually protect the brain by destroying parts of nerve cell connections that are wearing out with the increased activity of wake.
However, within 5 days of continuing sleep deprivation, other changes occur. Other cells called microglia, which also eat parts of connections between nerve cells, become more active. We know that continuing increase in activity of these cells may reduce the brain’s ability to deal with other damaging issues. This may predispose the brain to damage.
So we may be able to deal with short-term sleep loss for a day. But not getting enough sleep for long periods may set us up for brain damage. You don’t want that, do you? Well, then get enough sleep (7-9 hours a day for adults, 8-10 h a day for teenagers).