5 Ways that Lack of Sleep Affects the Brain

Written by Marcus Clarke

May 15, 2018

Have you been skimping on sleep thinking that you’re gaining more from your waking hours?

Let’s face it! You have been fooling yourself all this time.


Scientific evidence suggests that depriving the mind off sleep distorts the way it functions. The truth is, inadequate sleep could result in fogginess and grumpiness. What many of us don’t understand is that healthy sleep gives our bodies the chance to heal and rejuvenate. Both keys to a better life.

Still not convinced? Here are 5 ways that inadequate sleep affects your brain.

1.Your mind won’t function optimally

Doctors at the Mayo clinic suggest that sleep is crucial for the consolidation and formation of memories. With better sleep, you will be in a position to retrieve these memories easily when you are awake. Additionally, when you are tired, the brain finds it hard to pay attention and grasp things. Such deficits could end up compromising your productivity and creativity.


2.  Your moods could take a nosedive

Scientists have long associated moodiness with inadequate sleep. Having enough sleep will help you regulate your emotions and moods. If you don’t sleep well, it could result in emotional instability, crankiness or even irritabilities. As well, inadequate sleep could make you more sensitive to stress and negatively impact your life.


3.  Your Attention will waiver

Scientific studies suggest that depriving the brain of sleep could reduce your ability to pay attention. In one study, participants were deprived of  3 hours of sleep. While the performance and attentiveness of the participants recovered after they were given a chance to sleep for a full 8 hours, their attentiveness failed to return to normal levels. Thus inadequate sleep from a single night could linger around for a few days, even after sleeping well.


4.  It could result in depression

Over a long period of time, inadequate sleep could result in symptoms of depression. A 2005 survey conducted by Sleep in America found that people with anxiety and depression were more likely to sleep for less than 6 hours in a day.


Inadequate sleep is strongly associated with depression which could reduce the efficiency of your brain. A similar study found that people who suffered from insomnia are 5 times more likely to become depressed.


5.  It increases responses to negative stimuli

If you have been depriving yourself a few hours of sleep recently, bear in mind that it could increase sensitivity to negative stimuli. For instance, scientists conducted an experiment where people who had been deprived of sleep were showed pictures of snakes and weapons. Their negative responses were stronger when compared to those of participants who were not deprived sleep. The responsiveness of the Amygdala, a section of the brain associated with emotions, becomes hypersensitive in sleep-deprived people.

So, if you thought that sacrificing a few hours of sleep could make you more productive, just think again. You could be watering your dream while thinking you are building it.


Marcus regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.

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