Researchers Find Sleep Increases Brain Cell Production

Research by University of Wisconsin finds sleep helps in boosting up the production of brain cells. A study reveals the sleep increases those cells which forms myelin insulating material that helps in the proper brain functioning.

Scientists say the new findings could lead to new insights someday about the role of sleep in brain growth and brain repair, and also new knowledge about multiple sclerosis (MS) disease in which the myelin is damaged.

For long it has been known several genes are turned on in sleep, but it is not yet known how the sleep affects specific cell types that make myelin.

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Myelin is responsible for allowing the movement of electrical impulses from one cell to next.

The researchers at the University of Wisconsin in the United States conducted their study on mice by measuring gene activity in oligodendrocytes. Few mice were forcefully kept awake and the rest were allowed to sleep. Dr Chiara Cirelli and his colleagues found that during the sleep the genes that promote myelin formation were turned on where as the genes implicated in cell death on those mice which were not allowed to sleep.

The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Dr Cirelli suggests there that extreme and/or chronic sleep loss may aggravate symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Dr Cirelli said, “For a long time, sleep researchers focused on how the activity of nerve cells differs when animals are awake versus when they are asleep… Now it is clear that the way other supporting cells in the nervous system operate also changes significantly depending on whether the animal is asleep or awake.”