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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sleep Deprivation's Effects on the Brain and Your Body

Sleep Deprivation



The immediate effects of skimping on sleep are obvious. You're groggy, unfocused, sluggish and dying for a nap (or a second cup of coffee). Then there are the sneakier signs you're overtired: You're overly emotional, starving and clumsier than usual. Most of the time, a solid night's sleep will solve all these problems.

The average adult needs about seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but most of us don't even get that much. But getting too little sleep - generally understood to mean six hours or less a night - can be serious - enough to change your genes, even! Source HERE.

I have missed several nights of sleeps due to vomiting, nausea, and/or pain. I started to wonder, how will this affect my body long term? So, I started to do some research, curious as to why the doctors never address my sleeping issues. The articles I found were very enlightening.

First, let's address sleep deprivation. What is it? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep deprivation is,

Sleep deprivation (DEP-rih-VA-shun) is a condition that occurs if you don't get enough sleep. Sleep deficiency is a broader concept. It occurs if you have one or more of the following:

You don't get enough sleep (sleep deprivation)

You sleep at the wrong time of day (that is, you're out of sync with your body's natural clock)

You don't sleep well or get all of the different types of sleep that your body needs

You have a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting enough sleep or causes poor quality sleep



Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is a vital part of the foundation for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime.

Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater risk of death. To understand sleep deficiency, it helps to understand how sleep works and why it's important. The two basic types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM.

Non-REM sleep includes what is commonly known as deep sleep or slow wave sleep. Dreaming typically occurs during REM sleep. Generally, non-REM and REM sleep occur in a regular pattern of 3–5 cycles each night.



The sleep cycle



Your ability to function and feel well while you're awake depends on whether you're getting enough total sleep and enough of each type of sleep. It also depends on whether you're sleeping at a time when your body is prepared and ready to sleep.

You have an internal "body clock" that controls when you're awake and when your body is ready for sleep. This clock typically follows a 24-hour repeating rhythm (called the circadian rhythm). The rhythm affects every cell, tissue, and organ in your body and how they work.

If you aren't getting enough sleep, are sleeping at the wrong times, or have poor quality sleep, you'll likely feel very tired during the day. You may not feel refreshed and alert when you wake up.

Sleep deficiency can interfere with work, school, driving, and social functioning. You might have trouble learning, focusing, and reacting. Also, you might find it hard to judge other people's emotions and reactions. Sleep deficiency also can make you feel frustrated, cranky, or worried in social situations.

The signs and symptoms of sleep deficiency may differ between children and adults. Children who are sleep deficient might be overly active and have problems paying attention. They also might misbehave, and their school performance can suffer.

Sleep deficiency is a common public health problem in the United States. People in all age groups report not getting enough sleep.

As part of a health survey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7–19 percent of adults in the United States reported not getting enough rest or sleep every day.

Nearly 40 percent of adults report falling asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month. Also, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic (ongoing) sleep disorders.

Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression [and let's go ahead and add in Gastroparesis].

Sleep deficiency also is associated with an increased risk of injury in adults, teens, and children. For example, driver sleepiness (not related to alcohol) is responsible for serious car crash injuries and death. In the elderly, sleep deficiency might be linked to an increased risk of falls and broken bones.

In addition, sleep deficiency has played a role in human errors linked to tragic accidents, such as nuclear reactor meltdowns, grounding of large ships, and aviation accidents.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.
The Source is HERE.




How much sleep is enough?


The amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life. Although sleep needs vary from person to person, the chart below shows general recommendations for different age groups.



Age Recommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns 16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children 11–12 hours a day
School-aged children At least 10 hours a day
Teens 9–10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly) 7–8 hours a day

If you routinely lose sleep or choose to sleep less than needed, the sleep loss adds up. The total sleep lost is called your sleep debt. For example, if you lose 2 hours of sleep each night, you'll have a sleep debt of 14 hours after a week.

Some people nap as a way to deal with sleepiness. Naps may provide a short-term boost in alertness and performance. However, napping doesn't provide all of the other benefits of night-time sleep. Thus, you can't really make up for lost sleep.

Some people sleep more on their days off than on work days. They also may go to bed later and get up later on days off.

Sleeping more on days off might be a sign that you aren't getting enough sleep. Although extra sleep on days off might help you feel better, it can upset your body's sleep–wake rhythm.

Bad sleep habits and long-term sleep loss will affect your health. If you're worried about whether you're getting enough sleep, try using a sleep diary for a couple of weeks.

Write down how much you sleep each night, how alert and rested you feel in the morning, and how sleepy you feel during the day. Show the results to your doctor and talk about how you can improve your sleep. You can find a sample sleep diary in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep."

Sleeping when your body is ready to sleep also is very important. Sleep deficiency can affect people even when they sleep the total number of hours recommended for their age group.

For example, people whose sleep is out of sync with their body clocks (such as shift workers) or routinely interrupted (such as caregivers or emergency responders) might need to pay special attention to their sleep needs.

If your job or daily routine limits your ability to get enough sleep or sleep at the right times, talk with your doctor. You also should talk with your doctor if you sleep more than 8 hours a night, but don't feel well rested. You may have a sleep disorder or other health problem.




How does Sleep Deprivation Affect the Brain?



The effect of sleep deprivation.




According to Serendip Studio,

"Sleep deprivation is a commonplace occurrence in modern culture. Every day there seems to be twice as much work and half as much time to complete it in. This results in either extended periods of wakefulness or a decrease in sleep over an extended period of time. While some people may like to believe that they can train their bodies to not require as much sleep as they once did this belief is false. Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain, so that it may continue to function optimally. After periods of extended wakefulness or reduced sleep neurons may begin to malfunction, visibly effecting a person's behavior. Some organs, such as muscles, are able to regenerate even when a person is not sleeping so long as they are resting. This could involve lying awake but relaxed within a quite environment. Even though cognitive functions might not seem necessary in this scenario the brain, especially the cerebral cortex, is not able to rest but rather remains semi-alert in a state of "quiet readiness." Certain stages of sleep are needed for the regeneration of neurons within the cerebral cortex while other stages of sleep seem to be used for forming new memories and generating new synaptic connections. The effects of sleep deprivation on behavior have been tested with relation to the presence of activity in different sections of the cerebral cortex.








The temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex is associated with the processing of language. During verbal learning tests on subjects who are fully rested functional magnetic resonance imaging scans show that this area of the brain is very active. However, in sleep deprived subjects there is no activity within this region. The effects of this inactivity can be observed by the slurred speech in subjects who have gone for prolonged periods with no sleep.

Even severely sleep deprived people are still able to perform to some degree on a verbal learning test. This implies that some other area of the brain must become active to compensate for the loss of temporal lobe functioning. In fact, activity can be seen in the parietal lobe that is not present during verbal learning tests using rested subjects. Greater activity within this region corresponded to better performance by subjects in research studies. Still, sleep deprived people do not perform as well on these tests as do fully rested subjects. One possible reason for the poorer performance after missing sleep, aside from unregenerated neurons, could be the fact that since the parietal lobe is not usually used to performing tasks such as these it is not as adept at carrying them out. Therefore, when control switches from the temporal lobe to the parietal lobe some speed and accuracy is naturally lost. Interestingly, sleep deprived subjects have been shown to have better short-term memory abilities than their well-rested counterparts (6). Since memory is associated with this region of the cerebral cortex the fact that it is already active in sleep deprived people could make it easier for new synapses to be created, thus forming new short-term memories more easily.

While activity is seen within the parietal lobes of rested people as they think through math problems no corresponding activity is visible within the brains of sleep-deprived subjects. Also, no new area of the brain becomes active while the sleep deprived people work on math problems. Since sleep deprived people can still complete math problems, albeit with less speed and accuracy than a well-rested individual, this data implies that a region of the brain already in use is used for this task.

The frontal lobe is the most fascinating section of the brain with relation to sleep deprivation. Its functions are associated with speech as well as novel and creative thinking. Sleep deprived test subjects have difficulties thinking of imaginative words or ideas. Instead, they tend to choose repetitious words or clich├ęd phrases. Also, a sleep-deprived individual is less able to deliver a statement well. The subject may show signs of slurred speech, stuttering, speaking in a monotone voice, or speaking at a slower pace than usual. Subjects in research studies also have a more difficult time reacting well to unpredicted rapid changes. Sleep deprived people do not have the speed or creative abilities to cope with making quick but logical decisions, nor do they have the ability to implement them well. Studies have demonstrated that a lack of sleep impairs one's ability to simultaneously focus on several different related tasks, reducing the speed as well as the efficiency of one's actions. A person may be able to react to a complex scenario when suddenly presented with it but, similar to the verbal tests, the subject will most likely pick an unoriginal solution. If presented with a similar situation multiple times with slight variations in the information presented the subject chooses the same solution, even though it might not be as applicable to the new scenario.

Part of the frontal lobe, the prefrontal cortex, has several functions specifically coupled with it. Judgment, impulse control, attention, and visual association have all been related to this region of the cerebral cortex. A recent study has shown that the prefrontal cortex, usually the most active area of the brain in rested individuals, becomes more active as a person remains awake for long periods of time. This region regenerates during the first stage of sleep, giving a person the ability to feel somewhat refreshed after only a short nap. The length of the first stage of sleep cycle is somewhat dependent upon how long the person had previously been awake. The longer the period of wakefulness, the longer the brain remains in the first stage of sleep. When the brain enters into the REM stage of sleep the prefrontal cortex is active once more.

The implications of this data seem to be fairly important in supporting the location of the I-function within the brain. The prefrontal cortex is active whenever a person is awake, no matter how little sleep they have had. Also, this area is active while dreaming. Since the individual is aware of him or herself during both of these instances, but is not aware during the stages of sleep when the prefrontal cortex is shut down, it seems logical that the I-function is located within this region. This indicates that the I-function is what is resting and regenerating during the first stage of sleep. It would be interesting to study prefrontal cortex activity while a person is conscious, but unaware of his or her actions, due to an influence such as drugs or alcohol. According to the results of the sleep deprivation studies little or no activity should be seen in the prefrontal cortex at anytime when the individual is unaware of his or herself.

One of the symptoms of prolonged sleep deprivation is hallucinations. This could also be related to the I-function since it is the system that integrates the input from all other areas of the brain. If the neurons composing the I-function become too taxed then the picture in the head that the I-function produces may be more dissimilar from reality than usual. The neurons, under pressure to continue functioning but unable to perform optimally, create an image useful enough for a person to see most of his or her surroundings. Metabolic activity in the prefrontal cortex can drop as much as eleven percent after a person has missed sleep for only twenty four hours. As a person loses more sleep or continues to receive less-than-adequate amounts of sleep the neurons become even more taxed and the I-function may begin to generate even less coherent images possibly resulting in temporary insanity.

Another piece of evidence supporting the location of the I-function is that mammals have REM sleep whereas cold-blooded animals do not and mammals have a neocortex, located within the prefrontal cortex, while cold-blooded animals do not. REM sleep stimulates areas of the brain used for learning and memory. When a person is taught a new skill his or her performance does not improve until he or she receives at least eight hours of sleep. An extended period of sleep ensures that the brain will be able to complete the full sleep cycle, including REM sleep. The necessity of sleep for learning could be due to the fact that sleep increases the production of proteins while reducing the rate at which they are broken down. Proteins are used to regenerate the neurons within the brain. Without them new synapses may not be able to be formed, thus limiting the amount of information a sleep-deprived individual can maintain.

One of the possible side effects of a continued lack of sleep is death. Usually this is the result of the fact that the immune system is weakened without sleep. The number of white blood cells within the body decreases, as does the activity of the remaining white blood cells. The body also decreases the amount of growth hormone produced. The ability of the body to metabolize sugar declines, turning sugar into fat. One study stated that people who sleep less than four hours per night are three times more likely to die within the next six years. Although the longest a human has remained awake was eleven days rats that are continually deprived of sleep die within two to five weeks, generally due to their severely weakened immune system.

In a way sleep deprivation studies help us to study the relationship between the brain and behavior in a very unique way by observing how a person's behavior changes as the brain shuts down. By taking images of the brain showing where activity is located it is possible to correlate the behavior exhibited by a subject with his or her brain patterns. Just like a person cannot jog for three continuous days a person's brain cannot operate without rest breaks. Since different regions of the brain rest during different stages of the sleep cycle, sleep cannot be cut short.

In fact, if the brain does not receive a break it will soon begin to shut down for periods of micro-sleep. This is essentially several seconds of actual sleep; delta waves that interrupt the regular EEG of an awake person thereby impairing his or her continuity of cognitive function. Micro-sleep generally happens directly before performance failure occurs. Without sleep our brains deteriorate, and if the argument that brain=behavior is true, then our behavior will also suffer accordingly."



What are the Signs/Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deficiency can cause you to feel very tired during the day. You may not feel refreshed and alert when you wake up. Sleep deficiency also can interfere with work, school, driving, and social functioning.

How sleepy you feel during the day can help you figure out whether you're having symptoms of problem sleepiness. You might be sleep deficient if you often feel like you could doze off while:

Sitting and reading or watching TV

Sitting still in a public place, such as a movie theater, meeting, or classroom

Riding in a car for an hour without stopping

Sitting and talking to someone

Sitting quietly after lunch

Sitting in traffic for a few minutes

Sleep deficiency can cause problems with learning, focusing, and reacting. You may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, remembering things, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. You may take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.

The signs and symptoms of sleep deficiency may differ between children and adults. Children who are sleep deficient might be overly active and have problems paying attention. They also might misbehave, and their school performance can suffer.

Sleep-deficient children may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation.

You may not notice how sleep deficiency affects your daily routine. A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

To find out whether you're sleep deficient, try keeping a sleep diary for a couple of weeks. Write down how much you sleep each night, how alert and rested you feel in the morning, and how sleepy you feel during the day. Source is HERE.


There are ten top ten reasons for sleep deprivation check list if you're still skeptical that can be found HERE.



Top Ten Things Sleep Deprivation Will do to You

According to Web MD, lack of sleep will:

1. Sleepiness Causes Accidents
2. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down
3. Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems
4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive
5. Sleepiness Is Depressing
6. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin
7. Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful
8. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight
9. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death
10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep

Source is HERE.

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