Just one week of lack of sleep could shut off hundreds of different genes and increase the risk of a number of different illnesses including heart disease and obesity, claimed scientists.
A new study says that getting less than six hours of sleep each night deactivates the genes, which are key in the constant process in the body of replenishment and self-repair.
Bodies need genes to produce a continual supply of different proteins that are used to repair or replace damaged tissue. However, after just a week of not getting enough sleep, some of the genes stop functioning.
The new findings seem to suggest that chronic sleep deprivation could stop the body from completely replenishing itself and increase the risk a number of different sicknesses, said researchers.
Twenty-six volunteers were put into two different groups by Surrey University scientists. One group slept for fewer than six hours each night for one complete week and one group slept for ten hours each night for a week.
After one week, each of the groups was kept awake for a full 40 hours. Blood samples were taken, which researchers studied to see the effects the sleep regimes had.
Researchers found that sleep deprivation for a week altered more than 711 genes, including some that are involved in inflammation, immunity, stress and metabolism. Lack of sleep also disrupted the function of genes that are designed to be less or more active at different points during the day, by throwing off the internal 24-hour clock of the body.
Even though a week of normal sleep restores the genes that are affected back to a normal pattern, the study’s researchers said that prolonged periods of sleep deprivation could lead to very serious problems with an individual’s health including heart disease and obesity.