You know by now that sleep deprivation is a serious problem. Just for starters, you’ve got a heightened risk of depression, obesity, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
And you definitely feel worse when you haven’t slept. Your brains doesn’t seem to be firing correctly, and it turns out that’s exactly the case:
UCLA researchers report sleep deprivation prevents neurons from correctly connecting with each other, resulting in temporary cognitive lapses in visual perception and memory.
So when you head off to work without your laptop, or mindlessly miss your turn on the way to drop off the kids, there’s a reason. Your brain is in a defective state of being.
The new study reveals how sleep deprivation is no joke:
“We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly,” said senior author Dr. Itzhak Fried, professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Tel Aviv University. “This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.”
When you don’t sleep, your neurons lose some of their ability to encode information and translate visual input into conscious thought. This can have dangerous consequences when encountering the unexpected, such as a pedestrian stepping in front of your car.
“The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver’s over-tired brain,” Dr. Fried explained. “It takes longer for his brain to register what he’s perceiving.”
Worse, important areas of your brain are dozing to compensate for the fact that you haven’t. So although your brain is technically up and running, you suffer significant mental lapses.
Go home … you’re drunk
You may have heard before that pulling an all-nighter leaves you in a state similar to alcohol intoxication. The drunk metaphor is also not something to laugh off.
“Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much,” said Fried. “Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying over-tired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers.”
As if that’s not enough to up your shuteye, you’re certainly not living your best life by being sleep deprived. Getting enough sleep is a key part of being a happy and high-performing person, and provides benefits to your heart, weight, mind, and more.
Blame Tired Brain Cells For Mental Lapses After Poor Sleep (Neuroscience News)