Sleep may Have an Anti-oxidant Effect on the Brain and Body

Drosophila Fruit Fly

Oxidative Stress Risk Factor for Neurodegenerative and Chronic Diseases

Anti-oxidants found in foods and medicinal herbs have been linked to preventing diseases. Oxidation is a chemical process that leads to the production of free radicals which cause oxidative stress. For instance, LDL cholesterol is not at all dangerous until it is oxidized and then it triggers the route to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and cardiovascular disease. Oxidative stress is believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Study Shows Sleep has Ant-oxidative Benefits

A new study has found that the normal process of sleep, which is shared by most animals, including humans, actually has anti-oxidative benefits. How many times do we find ourselves feeling great after having a good night’s sleep or how many times do we feel bad if we do not get a good night’s sleep?

Study Utilized Short-sleeping Mutant Drosophila Fruit Flies

The study published July 12, 2018, in the PLOS Biology journal by researchers at Columbia University, New York, examined a kind of short-sleeping mutant Drosophila fruit fly, The researchers discovered that increasing sleep in these wild types of flies actually increased resistance to oxidative stress. These results may lead to better understanding of sleep disorders in humans, and the role that oxidative stress and sleep deprivation play in neurodegenerative and other chronic diseases.

The study also shows that acute sleep deprivation in animals leads to the following:

  • An increased need for sleep
  • Cognitive decline
  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Death

However, they do not know if these results are from the loss of sleep or from the acute stress from sleep deprivation.

Research has revealed that chronic sleep restriction, or shortened sleep duration, in humans leads to the following:

  • Metabolic disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammation
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Premature death

Research also shows that acute sleep deprivation in humans, mice and rats is associated with immune dysfunction.

However, it is not clear whether these results are from the loss of sleep, disruptions in circadian rhythm or from other reasons that cause the loss of sleep such as aging, psychological stress or working at jobs with shifts.

Sleep Disorders Commonly Found in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Sleep disorders are commonly found in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. In fact, sleep disorders are often among the first signs even before other symptoms set in. There is an over-all decrease in sleep time in the US and one-third of adults sleep less than the recommended seven hours. See our blog from June 8, 2018 to learn more about sleep disturbances and dementia.

The Need for Short or Long-Term Care

Sometimes there is a need for you or your loved one to go to short or long-term skilled nursing care and rehabilitation for chronic or neurodegenerative diseases. The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation is a 5-star facility  located on eight beautiful wooded acres in Galloway Township, New Jersey.


Most animals and humans sleep. In fact, humans spend about a third of their lives sleeping. The lack of proper sleep has been associated with many chronic and neurodegenerative diseases. It is to be hoped that the discoveries made in this study that sleep is an anti-oxidant that protects the brain and body from oxidative stress will lead to better ways of combating diseases that often begin with sleep disorders.



Leave a Comment