How Does Loss of Sleep Affect Your Brain?

Blog

by Eugene Toth

Have you ever stayed awake late doing homework before a test the next day?   Beware!  A loss of sleep may harm your ability to think.

Young adults who lost sleep not only showed decreased cognitive function.  They also evidenced a reduction in physical activity.   People who lost sleep could not recognize certain emotions.[i]

In elderly persons, sleep deprivation causes cognitive aging.  Cognitive aging causes a deterioration of vocabulary, memory, general knowledge, and mathematics.  A reduction of these functions can signal the onset of dementia. [ii]  For an elderly person, loss of sleep reduces  “multiple domain performance, executive functions, verbal memory, and working memory capacity.” [iii]

prefrontal-cortex

Prefrontal Cortex[iv]

The frontal cortex control’s your brain’s highest functions.  The prefrontal cortex sits in front of the frontal cortex.   The prefrontal cortex controls less advanced thoughts.  When you lose sleep your prefrontal cortex loses some functioning.[v]

Irregular sleep wake patterns disrupt cognitive functions.

Sleep wake patterns measure the constancy of sleep.  If you go to sleep at 10:00 PM and wake up 4:00 AM on day one, then go to sleep at 7:00 PM and wake up at 10:00 AM on day two, your cognitive function may decrease.

To clean the brain’s waste, the brain needs cerebrospinal fluid or “CSF”.   Irregular sleep wake patterns and loss of sleep halt the cleaning of the brain’s waste. [vi] [vii]

Your body uses circadian rhythm, also known as the body clock, to wake up and go to sleep at regular times.   Artificial lighting and computer screens uncouple the sleep-wake cycle from natural light conditions. [viii]

Interrupting the circadian rhythm can cause stress and reduce cognitive function.[ix]

Extra sleep might boost your grades.

A gradual increase of sleep time benefits the brain.   Extending a person’s sleep schedule by 5 minutes each day improves their “abstract thinking and verbal creativity.” [x]  Before an exam, five minutes extra sleep may improve your score.

For sleeping, best to stick to a schedule.  Next time you plan to stay up late watching movies with your friends, consider how it may affect your performance in school the next day.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dewald-Kaufmann, J.F., Oort, F.j., Meijer, A.M., (2013) “The effects of sleep extension on sleep and cognitive performance in adolescents with chronic reduction: An experimental study.” Sleep Medicine, 14, 510-517.

Duarte, J., Nelas, P., Chaves, C., Ferreira, M., Coutinho, E., Cunha, M., (2014) Sleep wake patterns and their influence on school performance in Portuguese adolescents. AtencionPrimaria, 46, 160 – 164.

Kato, K., Iwamoto, K., Kawano, N., Noda, Y., Ozaki, N., Noda, A., (2017) “Differential effects  of physical activity and sleep deprivation on cognitive function in young adults” Journal of Sport and Health Science xx p. 1-10.

Kilgore, W., Balkin, T., Yarnell, A., Capaldi, V., (2017) “Sleep deprivation impairs recognition of specific emotions” Neurobiology and Circadian Rhythms 3 p. 10-16.

Koch, C., Leinweber, B., Drengberg, B., Blaum, C., Oster, H., (2017) “Interaction with circadian rhythm and stress” Neurobiology of Stress 6 p.57 – 67.

 

Lo, J., Groeger, J., Cheng, G., Dijk, D., Chee, M., (2016) “Self-Reported sleep duration and cognitive performance in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis” Sleep Medicine 87 -98.

Spector, R., Snodgrass, S.R., Johanson, C.E., (2015) A balanced view of the cerebrospinal fluid composition and functions: Focus on adult humans. Experimental Neurology, 273, 57-68.

 

[i][i][i] Kilgore, W., Balkin, T., Yarnell, A., Capaldi, V., (2017) “Sleep deprivation impairs recognition of specific emotions” Neurobiology and Circadian Rhythms 3 p. 10-16

[ii] “What is cognitive ageing?” Retrieved from http://www.ccace.ed.ac.uk/about-us/what-we-do/what-is-cognitive-ageing on 2/19/2017

[iii] Lo, J., Groeger, J., Cheng, G., Dijk, D., Chee, M., (2016) “Self-Reported sleep duration and cognitive performance in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis” Sleep Medicine 87 -98

[iv] Chapman, S.B., (2013/1/23) Go Full Frontal to Be Smart Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/make-your-brain-smarter/201301/go-full-frontal-be-smart on 2/19/2017

[v] Kato, K., Iwamoto, K., Kawano, N., Noda, Y., Ozaki, N., Noda, A., (2017) “Differential effects  of physical activity and sleep deprivation on cognitive function in young adults” Journal of Sport and Health Science xx p. 1-10

[vi] Duarte, J., Nelas, P., Chaves, C., Ferreira, M., Coutinho, E., Cunha, M., (2014) Sleep wake patterns and their influence on school performance in Portuguese adolescents. AtencionPrimaria, 46, 160 – 164

[vii] Spector, R., Snodgrass, S.R., Johanson, C.E., (2015) A balanced view of the cerebrospinal fluid composition and functions: Focus on adult humans. Experimental Neurology, 273, 57-68.

[viii] Koch, C., Leinweber, B., Drengberg, B., Blaum, C., Oster, H., (2017) “Interaction with circadian rhythm and stress” Neurobiology of Stress 6 p.57 – 67

[ix] Id.

[x] Dewald-Kaufmann, J.F., Oort, F.j., Meijer, A.M., (2013) The effects of sleep extension on sleep and cognitive performance in adolescents with chronic reduction: An experimental study. Sleep Medicine, 14, 510-517

Advertisements