by Jackie Moreno
A new study at the University of Pennsylvania may have you rethinking your sleep schedule. It found that lack of sleep could cause irreversible brain damage in some people, specifically for those that work odd or shift hours.
Doctors and medical residents are among the people the research focused on.
Gregory Konduros is a family doctor who runs his own practice but to get to that point he had to endure many sleepless nights.
"It was the process, it was how we were initiated into the club so to speak," says Dr. Konduros.
He said he had to work two to three sleepless nights a week on call for three years during his residency.
Dr. Konduros admits he picked up a few bad habits to help him stay alert and do his job.
"I did nicotine in cigarettes, caffeine. Never did pills or illegal substances but plenty of that was going around but just for the sole purpose of doing your job as best you could," says Dr. Konduros.
The University of Pennsylvania research was done on mice that were put in a random sleep schedule and were awakened for short and long periods of time.
They specifically looked at a bundle of nerve cells that is associated with alertness and cognitive function.
When the mice lost little sleep the nerve cells being observed reacted by making protein to energize and protect them, but when sleep loss became a habit that reaction shut down and after a few days of this the cells began to die off at a fast pace.
"In the long run not good for your health. Mental, physical, emotional," says Dr. Konduros.
If sleep loss has been proven to hinder ones brain, one can't help but wonder; have those who have to sacrifice sleep able to carry out their work?
Dr. Konduros says he has never been involved in a case where gross negligence was or caused a patient to do badly but says in other places it has happened.
"Today they have shortened shifts and have required their resident to get sleep and food as often as possible but back then you had to do it. We were following the game plan for the most part. That's how you learned but there are some possible bad out comes to our type of training," says Dr. Konduros.
He finally has his long sleepless night behind him but advices others not to follow in his footsteps and live a healthy lifestyle to better their lives.
"Sleep is a very important part of your life cycle. Get about 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Its restorative. Its what keeps you functioning."