Getting a good night’s sleep has always been important. Without it, you can’t hope to have enough energy to get you through the day. However, it turns out that the dangers associated with a lack of sleep are far more severe than being tired. Not getting enough shut-eye at night could actually be damaging your DNA!
Putting It To The Test
These concerning findings were uncovered by a group of researchers in Hong Kong who looked at the effects of sleep deprivation in doctors. As part of their job, medical professionals are expected to work night shifts; it’s a requirement that really messes with their sleeping patterns. The researchers wanted to see whether a group of these doctors who were on-call displayed any DNA differences to those who only worked regular daytime hours.
What They Found
Over the course of a few days, blood samples from the two groups were taken and analyzed for any differences. It was discovered that after working during the night, the on-call doctors displayed a lower frequency of DNA repair genes, but a higher number of DNA breaks.
This essentially meant that their DNA strands were more likely to break and less likely to be repaired. Either one of these is bad enough, but as a combination, they pose a significant threat.
Facing The Consequences
The results of this research study are particularly worrying because damage to DNA has been associated with a variety of health issues. Things like cancer, diabetes, and heart attacks have all been linked to this, meaning these doctors are essentially putting their lives on the line by doing their job. It’s ironic considering the whole purpose of their work is to heal the sick, but in doing that, they’re making themselves ill.
Everyone’s At Risk
Of course, it’s not just doctors who are at risk. The findings show that anyone who fails to get enough sleep at night is damaging their DNA and potentially signing themselves up for an early grave. Suddenly those early morning starts probably seem a whole lot worse.
Before you freak out, these findings do not definitively prove that missing out on your daily eight hours could make you seriously ill. A lot more research needs to be done, but it’s good to keep the risks in mind next time you pull an all-nighter. Sleep isn’t just important for being well-rested – you need it to stay alive!