How Lack of Sleep Can Make Your Brain Cells Sluggish?

A study has found a lack of sleep makes us feel foggy for a reason because brain cells lose their ability to communicate with each other

Or space out while driving to work and almost hit a stalled auto? Whether such research might lead to new laws or policy is tough to say, but one thing is clear: "When we're dragging after a night of lost sleep, now we know that it may be because our brain cells are feeling groggy and under-performing themselves", writes Alice Walton at Forbes. Their findings are published online today by Nature Medicine.

Dr. Itzhak Fried, professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA and author of this study said that this was the explanation of why sleep deprivation leads to impairment of several mental functions. "This leads to cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us".

The researchers studied 12 people who were preparing to undergo surgery to treat epilepsy.

The patients were hospitalized for a week and implanted with electrodes to pinpoint the place in the brain where their seizures originated. Since lack of sleep can provoke seizures, the patients stay awake all night to speed up their onset and shorten the hospital stay.

Each participant was asked to categorize images as quickly as possible.

Four of the patients stayed up all night before looking at some more images.

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 auto crashes. Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly, fired more weakly and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual'.

Sleep deprivation interfered with the neurons' ability to encode information and translate images into conscious thought.


Dr. Nir says that this same phenomenon can make a sleepy driver sluggish in reacting to a stimulus - such as a pedestrian stepping in front of the auto.

Dr Nir added: 'The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver's overtired brain. "It takes longer for his brain to register what he's perceiving", Dr.

The researchers also discovered that slower brain waves accompanied sluggish cellular activity in the temporal lobe and other parts of the brain.

In addition, the study also found that some areas of the brain are more affected with sleep deprivation than others. But, as Fried said in a university release, "no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers".

The importance of learning more on the effects surrounding sleep deprivation and conversely, the benefits of deep sleep, can not overstated.

The long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation have been associated with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.

New research confirms that lack of proper sleep has a severe impact on how the brain functions, with potentially unsafe consequences arising in daily life.

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