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How Lack of Sleep Affects the Brain

October 19, 2014

Sleep is the state of absent consciousness and the inactivity of the voluntary muscles. On average we spend one-third of our life we spend sleeping.

Sleep is vital since for rest of the physical body. Four to five hours of sleep is needed to replenish your physical body from an intense physical active day. You need seven to eight hours of sleep to replenish the mind after a mentally intense day.

Sleep both lack of it and excess has effects to ones brain in many ways, sleep assist in regenerating certain parts of the body. Sleep is vital for the regeneration of neurons, formation of new memories, and formation of new synaptic connections.

Lack of sleep has adverse effects on the memory. Sleep is required for the consolidation of a memory (remembering what it is supposed to remember). Lack of sleep causes the brain to have a harder time absorbing and recalling new information. Sleep affects how our brain stores information.

Studies have shown that sleep enhances memory. During sleep, the brain forms new permanent and semi-permanent memories. In one study, they split college students into two groups. One group crammed all night for a test on the next day. The second group studied until their normal bad time, got a good night’s sleep. The second group – which got a good night’s sleep – far outperformed the first group – which stayed up all night studying.

Research has shown that a good sleep enhances ones performance in any field and makes things easier to recall. During sleep the hippocampus replays the events of the day for the neocortex. While asleep, the brain organizes the information that flooded in during the waking hours.

Adequate sleep has proved to benefit the brain development/function. The healing power of sleep contributes to neurogenesis, the formation of new nerve cells to the brain. Lack of sleep means neurons may not have the time to repair all the damage cause during the day.

Lack of sleep causes your brain to work harder and accomplishing less. Sleep deprivation affects how well the brain performs. The situation becomes even worse when an individual is trying to do high level tasks. The tasks will have serious consequences both with the task performed and the way your brain is functioning.

A study suggests sleep deprivation causes part of the brain to over worked. This is especially important in the prefrontal cortex. The area supporting mental faculties such as working memory and practical reasoning. The cortex displayed more activity in the people with enough rest.

Sleep associated with several brain deceases and disorder. A study discovered patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea showed brain grey matter loss. The tissue loss occurred in the region of the brain that controls speech production. These individuals have the problem of stuttering or speech impairment. Their temporal lobe (brain region involved in language) was not activated in them. Healthy brains ranged from 2% to 18% larger in these areas than individuals with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea patients show subtle brain damage including problem with memory, thoughts and motor skills.

Apart from not getting enough rest there is also the problem of oversleeping that affects the brain. Oversleeping does cause the brain to age, too much sleep can cause the brain age by up to seven years. A research found 7-8% of people who slept more than 6 to 8 hours a night scored poorly on memory, reasoning and vocabulary tests.

During sleep the prefrontal (the genius within us) comes out allowing for maximum creativity. Many people have slept on a problem and find the answer in the morning. Elias Howe (the inventor of the sewing machine) said he had solved the problem of the machines needle when he dreamt of an attack by warriors carrying spears with holes in the tip. Also Paul McCartney said that he came up with the melody for yesterday while sleeping.

Sleep is crucial in the development and maintenance of brain functions. Both the quality and quantity of sleep plays a major role in the brains foundation of everyday learning and memory.

Plays a key role in an individual immune function

             Promotes physical health and emotional well being

             Helps repair the body

             Stress reduction

             Improves memory

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