One of the most important life processes for every adult is sleep. A good night’s rest on a comfortable surface is vital for survival and effective living. The recommended hours of sleep for an adult ranges from seven (7) to nine (9) hours every day with six (6) hours being the permissible minimum. Adults are advised to keep to this time in order to give the body enough time to rest and revitalize after seventeen hours of stretched-out activities without catching a break. Enough sleep is mandatory for healthy living. Sleep deprivation ensues when an individual is not receiving the recommended adequate amount of sleep. This is a severe condition with several risk factors and effects, especially on the brain. However, before examining thoroughly the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, let’s consider the following reasons why sleep is important;
Importance Of Sleep
- The revitalization of Body Cellular Functions
During the day, our body cells are active and working tirelessly to maintain body cellular functions without a break. Therefore like machines are privy to break down after tireless work, so is the human body system. In order to revitalize the body and promote restoration of body cells and tissues including the muscles. When humans sleep, their muscles repair themselves, with organs and cells working to revitalize and heal for proper functionality when awake and active.
- Conservation of Energy
The body utilizes ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) the energy currency of the cell during active hours. Without a break, there will be a continuous depletion of the body’s energy and most of the body’s energy will be redirected towards repair activities and conservation.
- Regulate Brain Function
The brain functions to control different bodily actions. Thinking and work keep the brain active during the day and at night, the brain has time to relax from external stress when we sleep. Contrary to what most individuals think, the brain is active even while asleep. Sleeping aids to regulate brain function. There is active communication with neurons and toxins are removed from the brain during sleep.
Effects Of Sleep On The Brain
Sleep is important for a number of reasons as discussed earlier. Without sleep, the brain components would not act properly and will affect many bodily functions. Obesity and depression are only but a few adverse effects of not sleeping as it affects specific brain function relating to the body system processes. There are different causes of sleep deprivation including sleep orders (restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea), chronic illnesses (cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia) and these could lead to a variety of long-term effects. Here are the outlined effects of sleep on the brain;
- Impairment of Brain Function
During sleep as mentioned previously, the brain cells, chemicals, and components all stay active to remove toxins, conserve energy and revitalize the body functions. If sleep is deprived and the brain doesn’t get the chance to perform these functions, there could be an impairment in the activities carried out while awake. It has been researched and observed that without adequate sleep, the development of poor memory, bad focus, and inability to pay proper attention will occur. The mental capacity of the brain will be subject to depletion in capabilities without sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces attention span and ability to think properly.
- Reduction of Immunity
Loss of sleep will affect immunity and subject the body and brain to reduced immunity. The brain and the immune system are closely related to the manner in which they act. The shared signals between the immune system and brain through the nerve endings, neurotransmitters, and modulators aids the immune system to release chemicals that will boost the body’s defense. The brain cycle following the circadian clock follows through affecting the immune system in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that’ll improve the defense against foreign bodies. Sleep deprivation will affect this neuroimmune response. The body and brain will be vulnerable to infection without adequate sleep.
- Heightened Emotions
Without sleep, it has been discovered that the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the brain’s emotional processing centers will be disrupted. A disruption in this process will lead to impairment and an increase in emotions. This leads to hypersensitivity that affects the way a sleep-deprived person will react. Without sleep, individuals become more irrational, sensitive, and highly irritable. Without adequate sleep, the functionality of the brain is affected including the components responsible for the control of human emotions. The neurons are unable to function properly creating an easy pathway for a reduction in cognitive abilities.
- Increased Risk of Obesity and Eating Disorders Due To Disruption in Hormone Production
There is a risk of obesity when sleep deprivation is introduced. Studies have shown that without sleep the production of hormones that regulate hunger and satisfaction are disrupted. Without adequate sleep Ghrelin which is responsible for the regulation of hunger, rises while leptin responsible for satisfaction reduces. As the feeling of hunger increases, the body’s natural reaction is to source more food which over time will lead to obesity and sleep disorders.
Insomnia disrupts brain function and increases the risk of depression. There are studies which have linked lack of sleep to depression in individuals. In fact, to treat depression, adequate sleep is always prescribed. The impairment in brain function caused by lack of sleep, there will be instability in the emotions of the individual causing erratic behavior and depression in some cases.
In time, if sleep deprivation continues, the value of life will continue to reduce drastically and death is in fact, imminent. The body is a system that must be managed and although it seems like a wasteful activity, adequate sleep is necessary. Without sleep, the brain will lead the immune system, the heart, the metabolic system, and a myriad of other bodily systems to misbehave. Staying healthy is keeping the brain healthy and sleeping is a necessity. Sleep deprivation could lead to death if left untreated. Stay in good health with proper sleep at the right time, with the right specified hours.