How Lack of Sleep Can Make Your Brain Cells Sluggish?

Faith Castro
November 8, 2017

Scientists have now discovered that the actual problem with sleep deprivation is that your brain cells switch off while you are still awake, leading to anything from forgetting your keys to vehicle crashes. In addition, the team found that not enough sleep affects certain areas of the brain more than others.

Studies recently covered by Medical News Today have suggested that how much - and how well - we sleep may be key in visual learning, memory consolidation, and necessary unlearning.

Sleep rhythms can disrupt normal activity in specific regions of the brain, said researchers from Tel Aviv University, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fried led his worldwide team of researchers while studying 12 UCLA epileptic patients. Electrodes had been implanted in the patients to identify the exact origin of their seizures.

The scientists recorded the neuron activity in the medial temporal lobe of the brain while 12 people completed a facial recognition test, both before and after a full night without sleep.

"The acute effects of a lack of sleep can also cause cognitive and behavioral lapses that contribute to accident-induced injury or death", the researchers write.

The study, lead by Dr Itzhak Fried from the University of California, found that parts of the brain can shut themselves off in people who are particularly exhausted - leading people to struggle to connect visual information with conscious thought.

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As the patients became sleepier, the task became harder due to a slowdown in the communication between brain cells, the researchers observed. The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver's overtired brain.

"Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly", Yuval Nir of Tel Aviv University said.

Experts also say that sleep deprivation can be as bad if not worse than drink driving because parts of the brain can actually shut themselves down in order to "sleep" and rest while the person is awake.

The scientists cited some existing research that detailed some potentially catastrophic effects of sleep deprivation. "It takes longer for his brain to register what he's perceiving", Dr. These "sleep-like" waves heavily disrupted the patients' brain activity and ability to perform tasks.

The researchers insist that sleep deprivation should be taken much more seriously than it now is, given its real dangers. Dr.

"Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much", says Dr. It found that taking getting behind the wheel while sleep-deprived could be just as risky as driving while intoxicated.

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