According to the article, a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at lab mice that were kept awake to replicate the kind of sleep loss common in modern life, through night shifts or long hours in the office. After several days of sleep patterns similar to night workers pulling three days of night shifts with only four to five hours sleep in 24 hours – the mice lost 25% of the brain cells in part of the brain stem.
Dear brother Mago, I remember when you did some night shift work some time ago. So this is bad news for you …………and for me too.
This new research may finally provide a rational explanation why I have failed to win the Nobel Prize so far. Several times in my life, I have kept those anti-social hours. But if I do say so myself, I haven’t done too badly with the 25% loss of those brain cells or maybe I just don’t know any different.
My first bout of pulling all-nighters was when I was studying for my finals at University and I am sure many students over the years can tell the same sorry tale. As the exams got closer, I found that I could concentrate better at night. First of all, there were far less distractions at night than during the day. While the sun was up, I might be tempted to leave the books and go enjoy the great outdoors. But at night, it felt good to stay in with the books by the warmth of the table lamp. Secondly, I told myself that I just enjoyed sitting at my table and looking out the window to see the darkening twilight and the lightening dawn.
However, I did take it to the extreme. I took to studying after dinner at 7 pm and carrying on through the night until about 10 am the next day. Then I would go out to do errands like grocery shopping, have my lunch and then sleep from about 1 pm to about 6pm. Repeat cycle. I did this for about two months.
I made it through my exams but there was a toll. It made me vulnerable to depression and for a long time after, I suffered from insomnia.
At the time, flushed with the confidence of youth, I thought I was being smart but I guess the sleepless mice experiment shows that I was probably getting dumber by the day.
So my advice is don’t skimp on the good night sleep.