PKU researchers unveil how sleep deprivation causes cognitive impairment

SEP . 20 2021
Peking University, September 20, 2021: Sleep deprivation (SD) is a common phenomenon in today’s society. While many of us may have an inkling of the detrimental effects of insufficient sleep, we continue to delay our bedtime, and our life could no longer do without a late sleep schedule. As more people suffer from sleep deprivation, there is an increasing need to dissect the harmful effects of lack of sleep to help us develop possible interventions.

Therefore, to understand the implications of sleep deprivation, a group of researchers at Peking University (PKU) delved deeper into how the lack of sleep impacts our health. While there has been numerous past research in this area, our understanding of the mechanisms behind sleep deprivation-induced dysregulation of inflammatory responses and cognitive impairment remains limited. In the newly published paper “Gut microbiota modulates the inflammatory response and cognitive impairment induced by sleep deprivation” in Molecular Psychiatry, the PKU researchers suggest that gut dysbiosis could be the main modulating factor behind symptoms of inflammation processes and cognitive deficits in a sleep-deprived individual.

The research contends that gut dysbiosis, or the declination of the diversity of bacteria combined with the loss of beneficial bacteria in a person's stomach and intestines, is the result of sleep deprivation and that it leads to other health issues. Gut dysbiosis is the main contributing factor to both peripheral and central inflammatory processes and cognitive deficits. This discovery unveils how common symptoms such as inflammatory processes and cognitive deficits are related to sleep deprivation. This study also shows that memory is the most affected cognitive function by sleep deprivation in humans. Hence, this study provides new insights about gut microbiota, which are the microorganisms in our digestive system, and their functions. The research expounds on how gut microbiota could be a causal factor in inflammation and cognitive impairment that are induced by SD.

As more individuals suffer from sleep deprivation, the findings of this study could propel research in the area of alleviating the harmful health impacts caused by insufficient sleep. With a better understanding of the mechanisms behind how the lack of sleep affects our health, more intervention measures could be developed to tackle this problem.

Written by: Shi Xinyao
Edited by: Ma Yaoli
Source: Molecular Psychiatry