Researchers say that long-term sleep deprivation by working overnight takes power from the brain and kills brain cells.
This is according to an article published in the Journal of Neuroscience. That article says the brain cells are killed even if workers are able to catch up on sleep.
A study put lab mice through a sleep schedule that mirrors shift workers, like truck drivers or doctors on the graveyard shift. They found that the bundle of nerves in the brain, which is associated with alertness and cognitive function, had lots of damage. The mice lost 25 percent of these neurons. In addition, the brains did not protect themselves naturally like they should if loss of sleep became a habit. Researchers say the change occurred even after a few days.