How does sleep deprivation affect the brain

In this article, we will explore insomnia or sleep deprivation and its effects on the brain.

Sleep deprivation is a sleep disorder characterized by chronic problems falling asleep, staying asleep or only sleeping for several hours and being wake unable to fall back to sleep. It is typically followed by functional impairment while awake. Both organic and non-organic insomnia constitute a sleep disorder.

It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, or by stress. Researchers do not know exactly why people need sleep, but we do know that sleep deprivation can kill. Humans deprived of sleep for long periods begin hallucinating and develop other mental problems. Sleep also seems important for the formation of memories.

Sleep deprivation can adversely affect brain function. Non REM sleep may allow enzymes to repair brain cell damage caused by free radicals. The study observed the first evidence of brain damage in rats as a direct result of sleep deprivation Animal studies suggest that sleep deprivation increases stress hormones, which may reduce new cell production in adult brains.

A 2000 study, by the UCSD School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in San Diego, used functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to monitor activity in the brains of sleep-deprived subjects performing simple verbal learning tasks. The study showed that regions of the brain’s prefrontal cortex displayed more activity in sleepier subjects. Depending on the task at hand, the brain would sometimes attempt to compensate for the adverse effects caused by lack of sleep. The temporal lobe, which is a brain region involved in language processing, was activated during verbal learning in rested subjects but not in sleep deprived subjects. The parietal lobe, not activated in rested subjects during the verbal exercise, was more active when the subjects were deprived of sleep. Although memory performance was less efficient with sleep deprivation, greater activity in the parietal region was associated with better memory.

If you develop chronic insomnia and/or sleep deprivation for more than two weeks, it is advised you go to your family doctor or a sleep specialist.

Studies show that sleep deprivation can effect on brain. Sleep allows your body to actively recharge itself and prepare for the next day. Sleeping well enables you to feel, think, and perform better. It allows you to maximize your time and your energy during the day.