A new animal study may influence parents to keep a closer check on their teens’ sleeping habits. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered sleep restriction in adolescent mice prevented the balanced growth of brain synapses.
Synapses are the site where nerve cells connect and communication occurs.
“One possible implication of our study is that if you lose too much sleep during adolescence, especially chronically, there may be lasting consequences in terms of the wiring of the brain,” says Dr. Chiara Cirelli.
Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia tend to start during adolescence but the exact reasons remain unclear. “Adolescence is a sensitive period of development during which the brain changes dramatically,” Cirelli says. “There is a massive remodeling of nerve circuits, with many new synapses formed and then eliminated.”
The study appears in the advance online publication of the journal Nature Neuroscience.