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Poor sleep has dramatic effect on body

26th February 2013

Researchers at the University of Surrey said experiencing just a week of poor sleep can have a "dramatic" effect on the body.

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The team, who published the outcome of their work in the PNAS journal,  explained how genes' behaviour altered when volunteers' sleep was reduced to less than six hours over a seven day period.

The researchers carried out an analysis of the blood of 26 volunteers, after they had slept for up to 10 hours over a seven day stretch. They then drew comparisons with samples taken after participants had slept six hours or less over the same time frame.

They found over 700 genes showed changes in activity after sleep was reduced. The team found genes responsible for immune system function were affected, along with a disturbance in the body's natural body clock.

Prof Colin Smith, from the University of Surrey, told the BBC: "There was quite a dramatic change in activity in many different kinds of genes."

He added: "Clearly sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur - hinting at what may lead to ill health. If we can't actually replenish and replace new cells, then that's going to lead to degenerative diseases." 

The consequences of poor sleep have been linked with problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

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