Sleep Deprivation and Its Effects on The Brain
Sleep is quintessential to the development of the brain – this has been scientifically accepted. Thus, sleep deprivation, also referred to as insomnia, can prove to be disastrous to the development process of the brain. Sleep deprivation can be the resultant of conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, stroke, side effects of medicines or due to the changes taking place in the brain. Whatever be the underlying cause, if left untreated, the consequences can even prove to be fatal.
Being able to go to sleep quickly or unable to stay asleep for long is what we refer to as insomnia, which obviously is a lack of enough sleep. Extending on the causes that have been mentioned above, various other factors like, stress, hormonal changes, wrong sleeping patterns, environmental factors, excessive consumption of stimulants or alcohol and drugs are all responsible for insomnia.
- According to Mark Mahowald, a neurology professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, a lack of proper sleep would affect the mental performance considerably.
- Dr. Eve Van Cauter mentions that people who fail to get enough sleep regularly are known to be less sensitive to insulin. This will make them more prone to developing diabetes or high blood pressure. Both these conditions are known to affect the brain’s performance.
- According to Dr. Van Cauter, an increasing sleep debt would trigger an early onset of obesity, memory loss, hypertension or diabetes, which otherwise should only occur in the old-age.
Let us look at some of the effects that our brain experiences due to a lack of proper regular sleep-
- memory loss
- headaches and dizziness
- irritability and mood changes
- lack of energy that affects the day-to-day performance
- improper functioning of the growth hormones
- hormonal imbalance
- hair loss
- weakened immune system
- impaired coordination
- blurred vision
Previously, it was only the older people who suffered from problems related to sleep deprivation but, insomnia is an ever increasing problem even in the younger and middle-aged people, given the kind of work patterns and work related stress that one is having to experience. Making suitable lifestyle changes and following a doctor’s advice is must to address the problem of sleeplessness.