A recent study conducted at Bar-Ilan University in Israel found that DNA repair in damaged neurons is most efficient during sleep, and Magdalene Crabbe, neurology and ophthalmology analyst at GlobalData, weighs in on the finding. “Considering the fact that sleep disturbances are a common symptom of psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety disorders this finding has big implications for the treatment of mental illnesses,” she says.
“Our lifestyle choices such as working long hours and high levels of stress and anxiety are determining factors in how much sleep we get. This, coupled with the fact that a number of mental illnesses are made worse by sleep deprivation, can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.
“In light of the study findings, doctors may start paying more attention to the relationship between sleep disorders, mental health, and the importance of inducing sleep in order to repair damaged neuronal DNA. Physicians are more likely to focus on sleep restoration and prescribe sleep-inducing drugs to people with mental illness.
“Sleep-inducing drugs can not only help people fall asleep faster, but it can also allow them to stay asleep for longer periods of time, maximizing the rate of DNA repair within damaged neurons. This could be helpful for people with memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and even problems with movement and balance.
“In periods of wakefulness, DNA damage rapidly accumulates within neurons and the need to sustain essential biological processes eclipses the time and energy available to repair this damage. Sleep has been found to boost chromosome motility and DNA reorganization.”