Sleep deprivation can cause stem cell healing in the cornea to be disrupted

Scientists are aware that sleep deprivation has a deleterious impact on the body, but they are currently investigating how it affects different organs and organ systems.

Researchers from China and the United States have released a research in the journal Stem Cell Reports on how lack of sleep might have an impact on one’s vision. They discovered that sleep deprivation can have an effect on both the stem cells in the cornea and the surface of the tear film on the corneal surface.

Quick facts: Sleep is important for your health

Sleeping eight hours or more on a daily basis is essential for health, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of individuals do not get enough rest. Adults should receive at least 7 hours of sleep every night, according to medical professionals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not getting enough sleep can lead to a variety of health problems, including an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

People suffering from sleep disorders account for a portion of the problem of so many people not getting enough sleep. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 40 million Americans suffer from a sleep disturbance.

The following are examples of sleep disorders:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy

For people who are not suffering from a sleep issue, the most effective strategy to ensure that they receive adequate sleep on a regular basis is to practice excellent sleep hygiene. People can do this by going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding screens for 1-2 hours before bed, and refraining from consuming alcoholic beverages before to bed.

The method through which the investigation was carried out

Sleep deprivation was investigated in this study by using mice to understand more about how the eyes are affected by it.

The cornea, according to the authors, is the clean front surface of the eye that is transparent. They also state that the cornea has a overlying tear film that serves to keep the eyes pleasant while also providing protection against infection and disease.

The researchers were interested in learning how sleep deprivation would alter stem cells in the cornea and how long it would take them to find out.

Stem cells have healing potential, as Dr. Neil Neimark, a board-certified family physician specializing in functional medicine who uses stem cell treatment in his clinic, explained in a TEDx Talks audio. In fact, “all tissue repair in the body is initiated by stem cells,” according to Dr. Neimark.

Following two days of sleep deprivation and subsequently a further ten days of sleep deprivation, the researchers conducted gene expression analyses on the mice in the current research.

The researchers discovered that 287 genes were highly elevated and 88 genes were considerably downregulated in corneas after two days. They discovered 272 genes that were considerably upregulated and 150 genes that were significantly downregulated after 10 days.

Taking care of the consequences of a lack of sleep

The scientists evaluated the mice after 1 and 2 months of additional sleep deprivation and discovered that the transparency of the cornea had been diminished and the ocular surface had become rough, respectively.

When mice were not given enough sleep, their stem cell numbers increased, which eventually led to what the authors described as a early manifestation of limbal stem cell deficiency, according to the authors. After being overexpressed for an extended period of time, the stem cells became depleted.

As the authors point out, short-term repercussions of inadequate sleep or delayed sleep produce ocular discomfort, which might include dryness, soreness, pruritus, and hyperemia of the eye.

The scientists discovered that treating mice with injured corneas with antioxidant-containing eye drops managed to improve the ocular health of the animals, despite these drawbacks, according to their findings.

He spoke with Medical News Today about the findings, which were not confirmed by the study’s authors, Dr. Howard R. Krauss, a surgical neuro-ophthalmologist and director of Neuro-Ophthalmology for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, who was not involved in the research.

“The design of the study was to study chemical and cellular changes in the ocular surface of sleep-deprived mice, revealing indeed that there are damaging effects, which shed light on mechanisms which may be at play in human symptoms and disease,” Dr. Krauss explained.

There are some limitations

Dr. Krauss believed the study was beneficial in that it demonstrated how sleep deprivation might possibly effect humans, although he did point out a problem.

According to Dr. Krauss, “a weakness of the study is the methodology by which sleep deprivation is induced in mice, who are in cages, perched on sticks to remain above a water-filled bottom – when the mouse falls asleep, it falls into the water, immediately wakes up, and climbs back up onto the stick.”

As Dr. Krauss put it, the approach utilized to induce sleep deprivation begs the question of how much of the shift they observed was purely secondary to sleep deprivation and how much may be a stress reaction.

The study refocusses our attention on sleep deprivation and leads us to believe that the extent and severity of the detrimental impacts of sleep deprivation may be substantially [broader] than we recognize.”

In this way, the human need for sleep in order to maintain good health becomes increasingly apparent with each passing day.

Fernanda Avila

Fernanda Avila is a freelance writer who's passionate about providing accurate and helpful mental health content for readers. She believes sharing information can help raise awareness and improve society wellbeing.

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