A string of bad nights can lead to a string of bad years, according to new research that indicates bad sleep "dramatically" alters the human body.
Writing in the journal PNAS, researchers said when sleep was cut to less than six hours a day for a week, the activity of hundreds of the body's genes are altered, leading—in some cases—to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function.
Researchers at the University of Surrey found that more than 700 genes were altered when experiment volunteers had their sleep cut down from 10 hours each night to six hours.
"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," Prof. Colin Smith from the University of Surrey told the BBC. "If we can't actually replenish and replace new cells, then that's going to lead to degenerative diseases."