Not getting enough sleep can have a significant effect on the human body, according to new research.
A lack of sleep is regularly linked to problems such as heart disease and obesity and recent studies have suggested it can also contribute to the development of dementia in old age.
Scientists from the University of Surrey analysed the blood of 26 people when they had a lot of sleep for a full week, in some cases up to ten hours. They were then limited to less than six hours shut-eye per night, after which their blood was re-tested.
It was discovered that more than 700 genes had been altered by the change in sleeping pattern, including those linked to the immune system, inflammation and response to stress.
Professor Colin Smith, who led the study, said sleep is "critical" in allowing cells within the body to rebuild and maintain good health.
"If we can't actually replenish and replace new cells, then that's going to lead to degenerative diseases," he added.
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