Most days we can’t wait to get some extra sleep, sometimes the only way we can find the motivation necessary to get out of bed in the morning is to tell ourselves that “maybe you can squeeze in a nap today.” This is usually a lie, but it helps us get out of bed anyway. Unfortunately with children to take care of, obligations at work, and our other daily commitments, we are leaving ourselves with less and less time to sleep. Hopefully by understanding how sleep deprivation affects your brain, you will find the time necessary to get in those precious extra Zz’s.
You probably don’t need science to tell you that when you don’t get enough sleep that you’re likely to be cranky the next day. When we don’t get adequate sleep we can misinterpret facial expressions and other social cues which definitely adds to our angry mood. According to the UC Berkeley Walker Sleep Lab and the Journal of Occupational Health and Medicine there is connectivity present between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex in the well rested brain. This connectivity is split in the sleep deprived brain and since the amygdala is responsible for emotional processing and the medial prefrontal cortex is responsible for regulating feelings, being angry is an understandable reaction to lack of sleep.
The UC Berkeley Walker Sleep Lab also proved that after a night without sleep, people are more likely to form false memories of observed events. There are three separate regions of the brain that are necessary to successfully encode memories, and a sleep deprived brain is unable to use these three functions properly which causes you to have memories of things that didn’t actually take place.
Learning & Remembering
We are smarter than we we were five years ago, a month ago, even a week ago. Every day we are accumulating new information and adding to our existing knowledge. When we sleep our brain replays the day’s events which helps us to remember and therefore learn new things. According to Marcos Frank Ph.Dd, “During sleep we find that there are lots of genes that are turning on during waking, but it’s really during sleep when we see them made into proteins…” Frank goes on to explain that during sleep our body is most effective at making proteins which is vital in forming a more permanent circuit.
While the prefrontal cortex, or the reward region of our brain is active in a sleep deprived state, the anterior insula, or the punishment region of our brain isn’t quite as receptive. So while the reward region in your brain is screaming let’s gamble $500, your anterior insula would usually stop you or at least decrease the amount of money, but when you’re brain is sleep deprived you can end up making risky decisions. There’s a reason casinos are opened really late.
Not that you needed any excuse to get the adequate 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but now you have four reasons to get to bed on time. You will be happier, remember things that actually happened, learn more effectively and make better decisions all by just getting some sleep.
Kevin Jones is a freelance writer, researcher and fitness instructor/consultant. He had helped hundreds of people find ways to become more fit and healthy through a balanced life focusing on an individualized approach to their nutrition and fitness. In addition, Kevin has written extensively in the fitness and health industries, including writing for companies such as a ICON Fitness brand NordicTrack. Connect with Kevin online; LinkedIn – Twitter