BOB HIRSHON (host):
Sleep loss affects gene function. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Just one week of mild sleep deprivation affects the function of 711 different genes. This according to researchers at the University of Surrey in the U.K., including chronobiologist Simon Archer. His team took blood samples from volunteers over the course of a week. One group slept eight hours a night; the other, six.
SIMON ARCHER (University of Surrey, England):
The changes are quite large, and they’re comparable to the kinds of differences that you would see if you were to compare, for example, a normal tissue with a diseased tissue.
Genes linked to inflammation and stress increased their activity in sleep-deprived people, while master control switches that regulate the whole body became sluggish. Since long-term sleep deprivation is already linked to a wide range of problems, from cognitive impairments to heart disease, the study may help scientists unravel the root causes. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.