How does the lack of sleep affect your brain?

Science is continuously studying the human body, which still has a lot of mysteries up its sleeve. One of these mysteries is the reason why sleep is so important for our heath. It is clear that the lack of sleep affects us in a bad way, making us over-tired, cranky or mentally foggy. These are a small fraction of the physical and mental health issues that are related to sleep deprivation. One of the main pillars of good health is sleep, alongside with pure water, healthy foods, and exercise. A lot of studies have been made, and it was demonstrated how sleep is profoundly connected with health.

Chronic sleep deprivation is a condition that affects more than 60 million people in the US. Individuals who have trouble sleeping also suffer from depression, diabetes, cancer, weight gain, cardiovascular problems and many others. Sleep is crucial to be creative and productive. Although sleep may seem to be an inactive state, our body and brain are quite active and awake.

Synaptic plasticity

The researchers are now mainly interested in the synaptic plasticity, which is the way neurons are connected in your brain changes. In the past, it was demonstrated that the lack of sleep could affect the strength of the neuronal connection, which makes your mind slower. In addition to this, sleep deprivation affects your learning capabilities. Sleep recalibrates the homeostatic and associative plasticity in the brain. This means that the lack of sleep will create a difficulty in learning adaptive behavior.

Different parts of the brain react differently to sleep deprivation

Not all the parts of the brain act the same way after sleep deprivation because some areas are more affected than others. Studies involving brain scans were done after consecutive no-sleep nights, and they determined that the parts of the brain most affected by this were the areas in charge of concentration and solving problems. As a result, after consecutive nights of no sleep, you will find it difficult to learn new stuff, remembering memories, and to perform simple tasks.

Pollution affects the sleep pattern

It has become quite hard to have a peaceful sleep with all the new technological devices designed to keep up entertained. If you would be forced to go, for example, camping, where the “power” goes out with the sun, you would sleep deeper and wake up more rested than ever.

One of the most important sources of pollution for our brain is light because it will interrupt the circadian clock and melatonin levels, which are essential for a good sleep and how well you rest. Blue light can increase the sleep disruption, indifferent of the source. Incandescent lights can emit red wavelengths which are not as bad as the blue lights, but can also affect your sleep habit. Light, especially blue light, is beneficial during day time because it boosts attention and improves your mood.

But during the night, your body goes through a lot of changes. Artificial lighting can affect your muscle strength and the density of your bones. Sleep depravity can also induce weight gain, higher blood glucose, and reduced strength.

Risks associated with the lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation has a significant effect on your brain. There are a lot of reasons why you should have a good sleep every night because you could suffer from:

  • Increased risk of accidents at work
  • Increased risk or car accidents
  • Reduced ability to perform even the simplest tasks
  • Reduced creativity
  • Reduced ability to remember and learn
  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced athletic performance
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Decreased immune function
  • Increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Increased risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Increased susceptibility to gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Premature aging
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis

Today there are a lot of options you can try to sleep better, and that does not mean medication. You have a lot of herbs and natural options that can help you relax and fall asleep quickly and easily. In addition to this, you should avoid contact with technology 30 minutes prior to going to sleep. For more information about what sleep does to your brain and body, you can ask your physician at the end of a consultation.

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