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Sleep deprivation impairs you as much as being drunk

07 November 2017

Missing out on a good night's sleep can seriously affect your brain function.

Ever had a particularly poor night of sleeping that just ruins your next day? In addition, the study also found that some areas of the brain are more affected with sleep deprivation than others. Fried said, "These are the very neurons [that] are responsible for the way you process the world in front of you".

Fried and his colleagues observed 12 people preparing to receive surgery in UCLA to treat epilepsy.

Electrodes also recorded brain-cell firing as scientists asked patients questions about a variety of images.

How does lack of sleep affect brain cells? This area of the brain regulates visual perception and memory.

The researchers also noted that as the patients got sleepier, they also had more difficulty completing the task at hand. Scientists looked at how the patients' brains functioned as they grew more exhausted and reached the danger point for an epileptic seizure.

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Lack of sleep caused the neurons to respond to visual stimulus sluggishly, the scientists reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Whether such research might lead to new laws or policy is tough to say, but one thing is clear: "When we're dragging after a night of lost sleep, now we know that it may be because our brain cells are feeling groggy and under-performing themselves", writes Alice Walton at Forbes. "Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual", he explained.

The team also discovered "slow" brain waves similar to those that occur during sleep in exhausted regions of the brain. It takes longer for his brain to register what he's perceiving.

A reflection was obtained as to how the brain cells have become sluggish and how slower the brain is functioning due to lack of sleep after concluding this test. With slow, sleep-like waves disrupting brain activity, negatively affecting the patients' performance, it suggested that certain parts of the brain were shutting down, leading to mental lapses, while other parts are active and running normally.

Prof Fried, of the University of California, added: "It appears select regions of the patients' brains were dozing, causing mental lapses". The effects are similar to "drinking too much". "Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers", said Fried.

The researchers found that individual neurons slow down when we are sleep deprived, leading to delayed behavioral responses to events taking place around us.

Sleep deprivation impairs you as much as being drunk

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