The Effects That Sleep deprivation Has On The Body
We have all experienced that drowsy and sluggish feeling after a sleepless night, and a recent study opens up the secrets as to why this happens. The study revealed that those who have inadequate sleep create problems in the way that the brain cells communicate with each other. It is not just us that feel the effects of a lack of sleep, but also the very cells that keep our body’s functioning.
This sedative effect on the brain makes it difficult for the brain cells to assist in cognitive actions and thus can bring on forgetfulness and an increase in how easily we become distracted. It is for these same reasons that our visual and mental perceptions also become altered. The science behind this phenomenon is quite basic. Lack of sleep steals away the neurons of the brain’s ability to function.
The study consisted of 12 participants who suffered from epilepsy and who were preparing to undergo surgery, which was not related to the survey in any way. The participants were fitted with electrodes which were placed into the brain, which, in turn, allowed detailed research to be performed on a cellular level. The participants were then requested to stay awake for the entire evening, during which time the researchers monitored their brain activity while they performed a set of given tasks.
The tasks consisted of the participants being asked to place images of people, places and animals into set categories as quickly as they could. The part of the brain that the researchers focused on was the temporal lobe, which controls visual and memory perception. They discovered that as the participants grew more tired, their ability to respond became impaired. The research also showed that certain areas of the brain became more impaired than others when suffering from sleep deprivation.
The sluggish feeling felt when tired is now thought to be the brain cells ‘dozing’, even though we remain awake, and this is why we feel so lethargic when tired. The study also discovered that there may be a link between a lack of sleep and the brain’s ability to fire neurons when over-tired. The neuron’s capture information and help to translate the visual inputs we experience every day into coherent thoughts.
A good example of a sleep-deprived individual can be seen when driving. Someone who is tired will take longer to react to potential accidents and the ability to quickly stop takes longer than normal. The reason this happens is that the visual information being translated in the brain takes much longer, therefore the actions required for stopping also takes much longer. This data led the researchers to compare the effects of sleep deprivation with those of drink drivers, of which they discovered the effects to be very much the same.
While there are both medical and legal standards governing drink driving, there are still not that govern driving while sleep deprived, which could help save countless lives on the road if laws were to be made and enforced.