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Can you make up for the lack of sleep?

First part of this question is quite obvious:
- with naps or sleeping in on the weekends, can I make up some of the sleep I lack at night since most of us have those dreadful 9-5 workdays?

second part (which is harder) is if I realize I have been sleep deprived my whole life (teenage years, and early twenties) (but TONS during college years)
is it possible to make up for those damages later on or has it already set in and is going to permanently effect me?

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  • Aug 15 2013: I'd imagine that there is little making up for what benefits you missed from lack of sleep. Part of sleeping is the increase of melatonin from the pineal that is responsible for removing free radicals, as an anti-oxidant it protects cells and mtDNA from being destroyed or altered. All of which helps prevent increased neurodegeneration levels from natural aging.

    Although, some have suggested that high and low oscillatory waves in the brain activate plasticity and in return recording and/or improving information stored in neural assemblies. Of which neurogenisis in the hippocampus allows for strengthening of pathways, even old ones if I'm not mistaken. So, you may have lost something, but you can rebuild.
    There's a chance you've increased the odds of experiencing health issues stemming from a lifetime of being sleep deprived of which I don't believe can be reversed with sleep. But I could be wrong.

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