Are you tired?
Let’s go take a nap, and here’s why you should! Keep on reading to find out 7 things that happen to your brain when you’re sleep deprived.
7 Things That Happen To Your Brain When You’re Exhausted & Need Sleep
#1 You’re Not As Nice
Sleep deprivation or prolonged restricted sleep results in increasing irritability and worsening mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed and mentally exhausted.
A study done at Berkeley found that sleep deprivation can impair your emotional state. Participants in studies who are purposefully sleep deprived lashed out at even their closest friends at the smallest perceived inconvenience. Sleep deprivation causes people to be more irritable, angry and hostile.
Researchers have also found that people who are more sleep deprived are less friendly, less elated, less empathic, and report a generally lower positive mood.
Sleep deprivation also seems to put a damper on people’s ability to reap the emotional benefits of a positive experience. In one study, people who were more sleep deprived did not report increased positive affect after an achievement (Zohar et al., 2005).
Brain imaging methods reveal why sleep deprivation can lead to irrational emotional responses.
The amygdala, the center for emotional behavior in your brain, was monitored through an MRI and found that without sleep, it inappropriately modulated the brain’s response to negative stimuli. The amygdala, an area deep in the brain, is our emotional control center.
When sleep deprived participants were shown emotionally negative images, activity levels in the amygdala were as much as 60% higher than levels in those who were rested. Sleep loss leads to heightened emotional reactivity.
In other words: sleep loss leads to increased negative mood, and decreased ability to regulate that anger!
#2 Your Brain Cells Die
The best way to kill your brain cells is by skipping out on some good sleep. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that brain cells forced to stay awake were destroyed, possibly leading to irreversible brain damage.
Locus ceruleus neurons (LCns) are active neurons in the brain that are essential for alertness and increase their firing rates over prolonged wakefulness.
Without sleep to give those neurons a rest, they become damaged.
Studies in mice showed the mice losing 25 percent of LCns after three days of only four to five hours of sleep per 24 hours.
#3 Your Cognitive Throughput Slows Down
The more sleep deprived you are, the more it affects your cognitive throughput, or the speed at which your brain processes information.
Several studies have been conducted on this very subject and one from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that the more fatigued a person is, the more severely affected their cognitive responses are, often without the person’s knowledge that they’re getting progressively worse.
#4 Your Brain Creates False Memories
Getting enough sleep is more than just making sure you don’t have bags under your eyes; it’s important for your memory, too. According to a study published in Psychological Science, sleep deprivation increases the risk of your mind developing false memories.
The study conducted showed photos of a crime, followed by a text narrative that contradicted what the people saw in the photo. After one group was allowed to sleep and the other was forced to stay awake all night, researchers found that the sleep-deprived group was more likely to recall what the narrative stated, despite not following along with the photo.
#5: Your Brain Loses Its Filter (Its Ability To Focus on What Really Matters)
When you’re fatigued, your brain basically loses the efficiency of its filter, according to a study done by the University of California San Diego. Turns out that sleep affects your visual working memory (VWM), and one aspect of VWM is the ability to filter out unnecessary or irrelevant information so that your brain can focus on what you really need to know for a particular goal.
Without it, your brain becomes muddled and you may be overwhelmed and unsure of what you’re looking for when working on a project, or trying to figure something out.
#6: It Shrinks
Turns out that not only are some of your brain’s skills affected by sleep deprivation, but the actual size of it is too. A study published in Neurology found that the right superior frontal cortex reduced in volume for those with sleep issues and there was an increased rate of shrinking in the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions.
#7 It Hallucinates
Your brain loses its filter-efficiency the more sleep deprived you become? Well that missing filter can have a scarier consequence than feeling fuzzy.
When your brain has trouble filtering stimuli, it can sometimes mix up what’s really there with the things that aren’t, leading to hallucinations. Definitely gives a big reason as to why sleep deprivation is a tactic for torture.
A radio talk show host who stayed awake for 200 hours straight for charity began having hallucinations by the end of that period.
SO GO TO SLEEP! 🙂
Lots of love,
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