Sleep Deprivation and the Brain

Next time you plan on spending another sleepless night, think again. Research shows that sleep deprivation causes some parts of the brain to shut down even if you appear to be wide awake. This phenomenon was discovered by neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin when they attempted to study the sleeping patterns of rats.

Results indicate that essential brain functions that usually occur during sleep cannot be reproduced when we are awake thus causing several parts of the brain to shut down without us knowing. The shutting down of these pieces of our brain can affect our decision-making processes among other negative effects to our body. Sleep deprived individuals tend to easily make mistakes, become clumsy and are typically poor decision makers.

According to Giulio Tononi, the lead scientist who spearheaded the rat experiment, trained rats who were subjected to sleep deprivation appear to be unable to perform the simplest of tasks taught to them as compared to their well-slept counterparts. The experiment suggests that the human brain functions alike and when we are underslept, pieces of our brain malfunction thereby affecting our overall thinking capacity and alertness. Another study points out the correlation between chronic sleep deprivation and increased signs of aging such as wrinkling of the skin among others.

Other studies show that sleep deprivation can cause heart disease, obesity and diabetes among others. Surveys also indicate that only a few percent of the human population get the sufficient sleep time our body needs after infancy and toddlerhood. Also, according to a research published by the National Sleep Foundation, chronic sleep deprivation can cause troubles especially for adolescents as they may find it difficult to efficiently work in school. In addition, sleep deprivation has been associated with cases of disciplinary problems among children. So, the next time you plan on not sleeping, think about how much is at stake. For parents out there, make sure your children get the right amount of sleep they need before going to school.