Have you been feeling extra drowsy lately? Or just having a difficult time sleeping in general? You may want to consider doing something about it, as a lack of sleep is actually extremely detrimental to your health and mental well-being.
It is recommended that we get around 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but an alarming estimated 70 million Americans are falling well short of that number and are having a hard time sleeping. There are many factors that could be affecting your sleep in a negative way; you can read more about those here.
Some people over at Science.Mic put together the infographic below using information from the Center For Disease Control, International Journal of Occupational Health, and the UC Berkeley Sleep Lab to showcase the detrimental effects that not getting enough sleep can have on your brain. These include: memory loss, anger, slurred speech, cerebral shrinkage, hallucinations, risky decisions, and many others.
What Happens When Your Brain Doesn’t Sleep?
[Here is the text from the infographic:]
The hippocampus, a moon-shaped structure in the temporal lobe, exhibits a distinct pattern of neural activity when the waking mind encodes (learns) new information. Scientists believe our brain later “replays” the same activity pattern while we’re sleeping to help the infot stick. Lose sleep, lose long-term memories.
The sleep-starved brain may fail to encode memories successfully in the first place, thanks to altered function in the hippocampus, as well as prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe regions. One study found that people are more likely to incorporate misinformation into memories of events observed after a night without sleep.
Sleep loss primes us to focus on negative experiences, misinterpret facial expressions and pick fights .Emotional volatility may partly be a product of interrupted communication between brain regions. FMRI of the well-rested brain shows connectivity between the amygdala, a limbic system structure critical to emotional processing, and the medial prefrontla cortex, which helps regulate feelings (ie., tells us to chill). Sleep deprivation cuts this connection, letting your revved-up amygdala (and your mood) run wild).
When you you skimp on sleep, the clever commentary may not flow so easily. Sleep loss affects cognitive processes like divergent thinking, cwhich helps us switch topics nimbly during conversation. Scientists found that activity in the inferior frontal gyrus increases when sleep-deprived people tried to list uses for different objects, suggesting the brain draws on divergent thinking to compensate for strained cognitive functioning.
The well-rested brain filters stimuli (noise, light, smell, etc.) to separate what matters from what doesn’t and prevent sensory overload. When the brain can’t filter the information coming in, chaos ensues. After pulling and all-nighter, people may begin to anticipate things that aren’t there, including objects.
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS:
We all lose focus now and then, but brain activity linked to attention lapses changes when people sacrifice sleep. After a good night’s rest, these lapses correspond to altered thalamus function and less-active frontal and parietal networks, which basically means we tune out when we’re bored. But when sleep-deprived people space out, they also exhibit impaired visual sensory processing, suggesting a whole other level of disengagement with the world. In short: Losing sleep turns you into Phoebe from Friends.
Healthy adults getting poor sleep lose volume in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes, one study showed. Researchers don’t yet understand if sleep loss causes shrinkage or vice versa.
The temporal lobe, the brain region associated with language processing, is highly active in well-erested people but inactive in their exhausted and enunciation-challenged counterparts.
Sleep loss corresponds with decreased activity in the frontal lobe, which controls decision-making, and more activity in the amygdala, a key player in fear detection. Together, these neural changes create a brain mechanism that dulls judgment and ratchets up desire–the ideal mind-state for scarfing down fistfuls of bacon.
When sleep-deprived people prepare to make economic decisions, the brain’s reward center in the prefrontal cortex lights up, suggesting they expect to win (e.g., make money). But when risky choices don’t pan out, people’s brain activity decreases in the region related to punishment and aversion (the anterior insula), suggesting they don’t care about losing money as much as they would on a good night’s sleep.
Add all-nighters to the list of things that kills brain cells–in this case, in the brain stem. The damage may be irreparable, making “catching up on lost sleep” a poor excuse for snoozing til noon on the weekends.
Be Sure To Get A Good Sleep
It is important to note that the damage caused from a lack of sleep may be irreparable. So do your best to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. If necessary, wear an eye mask and/or earplugs, or keep the pets out of the room. Whatever it takes to ensure you are getting adequate, quality sleep. It’s more important than you might think!
Sleep Tight, Much Love!
Fore more CE articles relating to sleep, click HERE.