A woman experiencing the behavioral effects of sleep deprivation

5 Wonky Behavioral Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Millions of us loose sleep for a variety of reasons — work, school, partying, etc. Quite a few of us are plagued by reasons that are a bit more difficult to manage — sleeping disorders such as insomnia.

A cumulative lack of sleep results in sleep deprivation. The behavioral effects of sleep deprivation can make life more difficult than it needs to be — leading to a degradation of a person’s mental and physical abilities.

A Brief Overview of Sleep Deprivation

So you loose a few hours of sleep. Why would that matter?

You need sleep to regenerate and to repair the body, most notably the brain. With enough sleep, your brain will regenerate enough to function optimally. Whenever you’re awake for an extended period of time, neurons begin to malfunction. This causes the wonky behavioral problems that may feel similar to drinking.

5 Common Behavioral Effects of Sleep Deprivation

These are the 5 most common behavioral effects of sleep deprivation. They are not the only behavior impairments that you’ll notice. But if you do happen to have one of them, you may want to consider making some serious changes to your habits and sleep hygiene.

1.) The Neutral & Sad Faces

Even a little sleep deprivation can affect our emotional well-being. When someone becomes sleep deprived, they don’t show positive emotions in their faces. They may “feel” happy, but the best that the sleep-deprived person can usually do is show a neutral face.

People suffering from sleep deprivation have a tendency of looking more “sad”. This is based on cues like redder eyes, dark circles under the eyes, droopy corners of the mouth, etc. That maybe why people keep annoying you with, “Are you okay?”

2.) Unexpected Microsleeps

This is a bizarre phenomenon. Microsleep is a mini-snooze session that can last up to 30 seconds. During a microsleep, a person’s eyes can remain open. Even with their eyes open, that person is essentially blind during that short period of time. The brain during a microsleep rapidly and unexpectedly goes into a sleep state.

Some people who go through a microsleep can wake themselves up, but they’ll quickly fall back into another round of microsleep. This condition can be extremely dangerous.

3.) Moods Swings

Sleep and mood are closely connected. Obtaining high-quality sleep has a positive impact upon a person’s overall mood and sense of well-being. A sleep deprived person will feel more irritable, upset, and depressed. A negative reaction is more likely to occur whenever things go wrong in life.

Sleep deprivation increases negative mood via an increase in Amygdala activity in the brain. The Amygdala is a brain structure integral to experiences of emotions. When the Amygdala generates hormonal secretions, due to negatively perceived experiences, emotions of fear and anger result.

Increased activity within the Amygdala is also responsible for fear conditioning. This is an associative process fueled by repeated experiences that trigger feelings of fear. The cumulative experiences cause brain circuits to changes and create new memories that reenforce the feelings of fear of someone, something, and/or an event.

4.) Mistakes, Errors, And All Around Clumsiness

Sleep deprivation also makes life more difficult by deteriorating one’s ability to focus and accomplish tasks without goofing up. And I can personally attest to this…

I have found major errors that I’ve somehow have been able to over-look for a year plus. I have mistakenly driven into the wrong end of a exit. I have even ran into things for no good reason. (With my body.)

There is nothing funny about this, especially if these incidents become life-threatening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported traffic accidents are a result of drowsy drivers every year. According to the Institutes of Medicine over one million injuries occur and somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 deaths happen each year from preventable medical errors.

The lower level of alertness and general fatigue are due to the noticeable change in brain activity, most notably within the Prefrontal Cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for the many higher-level cognitive functions such as logical reasoning, working memory, and concentration.

5.) Constant Munchies

Sleep deprivation has also been linked to weight-gain. This link has been found in the different levels of appetite, regulated by the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin, among those who sleep less than five hours a night as compared to those who average eight hours a night.

Lower levels of Leptin, which is created by fat cells, signals hunger and a bigger appetite. Ghrelin, which is produced by the stomach, acts as an appetite stimulant. The combination of less Leptin and an increase in Ghrelin result in more snacking.

According to researches who reported in the journal Public Library of Science: Medicine, subjects in the study who average five hours of sleep or less had 16% Leptin and Nearly 15% increase in Ghrelin as compared to those who gained a good night’s sleep.

Wanna Feel A Little Weird?

If not, then go pursue a better night’s sleep. It’ll vastly improve your mental and physical health. As a bonus, your performance at home, work, and/or school will vastly improve.

Having trouble just falling a sleep? You may want to consider learning about all-natural herbal supplements that will help induce sleep.

I would also recommend learning how to improve your sleep hygiene. Just that alone will improve your ability to sleep.

Bibliography and Further Reading:

“Effects of Sleep Deprivation” Sleep Aid Resource. Retrieved May 29, 2018 from http://www.sleepaidresource.com/behavioral-effects-of-sleep-deprivation.html

“Effects of Sleep Deprivation” Sleep Aid Resource. Retrieved May 29, 2018 from http://www.sleepaidresource.com/effects-of-sleep-deprivation.html

“The Amygdala’s Location and Function in the Brain” ThoughtCo. Retrieved May 29, 2018 https://www.thoughtco.com/amygdala-anatomy-373211

“Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety” The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Retrieved June 13, 2018 from  http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safety

Graham, Sarah. “Sleep Deprivation Tied to Shifts in Hunger Hormones” Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sleep-deprivation-tied-to/, Dec 7, 2004

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