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A new blood test could identify sleep deprivation

A new blood test has been developed that can accurately detect when someone has not slept for 24 hours

The new blood biomarker detected whether individuals had been awake for 24 hours with a 99.2% probability
The new blood biomarker detected whether individuals had been awake for 24 hours with a 99.2% probability (Pexels)

It’s well-known that sleep deprivation not only leads to moodiness and irritability the next day but can cause serious injuries and accidents due to the inability to focus. Now, a new blood test has been developed that can accurately detect when someone has not slept for 24 hours. Researchers hope this can help in improving safety measures.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Birmingham, found a blood biomarker which detected whether individuals had been awake for 24 hours with a 99.2% probability of being correct when compared to a well-rested group. 

Also read: An essential guide to sleeping better at night

The biomarker uses a combination of markers found in healthy volunteers’ blood. Working together, these biomarkers could accurately predict when the study volunteers had been awake for more than 24 hours under controlled laboratory conditions, the university’s press statement explained.

According to the researchers, about 20% of road accidents worldwide are caused by sleep deprivation and hence, they hope the new blood test could help identify sleep-deprived drivers. They also aim for it to be used in other situations where sleep deprivation could lead to harmful consequences, such as in safety-critical workplaces as well as forensics.

“This is a really exciting discovery for sleep scientists, and could be transformative to the future management of health and safety relating to insufficient sleep,” senior author Clare Anderson said in the statement.

According to Anderson, there is a need for objective tests that identify individuals who present as a risk to themselves or others in situations where the cost of a mistake can be fatal. The findings were published in the journal Sleep Advances.

Previous studies have also shown that lack of sleep can significantly impact people’s health. For instance, an October 2023 study, published in Translational Psychiatry, showed that consistently sleeping less than five hours a night might increase the risk of developing depressive symptoms.

Another study published in October 2023 in the journal Diabetes Care, highlighted how insufficient sleep can affect women’s health. The findings showed that shortening sleep by just 90 minutes for a few weeks increases insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes among women. Importantly, this was even more prevalent in postmenopausal women.

These studies emphasise the importance of detecting and addressing sleep deprivation as a way to avert any harm caused by it.

Also read: How lack of sleep is linked to depressive symptoms

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