Developing and analyzing the impact of sleep deprivation on the brain and behavior needs to be critically considered, as it affects many people in the society. Health terms, such as sleep debt, have become synonymous terms used by doctors to diagnose most patients. Studies indicate that sleep deprivation creates a lasting impact on the health of the person. Therefore, it is necessary to outline hoe sleep deprivation influences the brain and its functioning.
Sleep deprivation is common in the modern society as people have less time to accomplish their work. In order to be able to accomplish their job, people resort to depriving themselves sleep to be able to extend their time to accomplish any unfinished works. Most people consider that they could teach their bodies to adapt to sleeping minimal hours by using drugs or coffee, but this belief is wrong in its entirety. The brain requires constant and sufficient nocturnal sleep of approximately eight hours to collapse particular components of the brain such as cells to enable it function optimally. Long periods of wakefulness may interfere with the proper functions of neurons in the brain and this may affect overall effectiveness of the person. The cerebral cortex that is responsible for the regeneration of various cells in the body requires the body to rest to enable it function to its full capabilities. Regeneration of certain neurons takes place at certain stages of sleep inside the cerebral cortex whilst the other stage is employed in forming new memories or generation of new synaptic connections. The impacts of sleep deprivation in people have been tested with regard to the brain activity in different parts of the cerebral cortex.
Processing language can be associated with the temporal lobe within the cerebral cortex of the brain. Tests on individuals with sufficient rests indicate that the temporal lobe experiences increased activity but in the case of sleep-deprived subjects, the activity level of temporal lobe reduces and this can be reflected in the slur in speech (Frackowiack, 1994). Although the sleep deprived individuals still possess the ability to perform a degree and variety of learning tests, the difference can be easily noted. This means that a certain area of the brain needs to be activated to allow for the sleep deprived individual to perform the learning test.
The activity level of the temporal lobe reduces but it increases in the parietal lobe, which is not to be the case in people with sufficient sleep. The greater activity in the parietal lobe results in better performance in the sleep deprived individuals but this increases the need to increase degeneration of neutrons in the brain (Kattler, DIJK, & Borbely, 2009). The better performance in individuals with sufficient sleep can be attributed to the fact that parietal lobe is not adept to performing such tasks therefore the increased inefficiency in their performance. When learning control changes from temporal lobe to parietal lobe, naturally, some level of speed and accuracy is lost. On the other hand, sleep deprived people often perform well when it comes to short-term memory. This can be attributed to the fact that short-term memory is associated with the parietal lobe in the cerebral cortex that is active in people with sleep deprivation: making it easier to create new synopsis (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
The area often affected most with the deprivation of sleep is the frontal lobe. The area is associated with creative thinking, novel, and speech. People with sleep deprivation have difficulty when it comes to creative thinking of words and ideas. These people exhibit signs of stuttering, monotone in speaking, and slurred speech when communicating to other people leading to inadequate delivery of information from them. People deprived of sleep have more difficulty in reacting to changes in environment or situations as they lose the ability to focus on more than one, but related tasks. The prefrontal cortex of the frontal lobe controls judgment, attention, impulse control, and visual association. These aspects of the brain are vital to the normal functioning of the body and any interference with the operations to create adverse effects on the coordination of the individual. The prefrontal cortex is identified as the most active part of the brain in people with sufficient rest, but it is more active when a person stays awake for a long time. It regenerates in the first stage enabling one to feel refreshed even after a short sleep. The initial stage of sleep’s longevity in an individual depends on how long a person has been awake. The prefrontal cortex acts without considering how long a person has been awake, as it ensures that the body remains balanced and coordinated (Kattler, DIJK, & Borbely, 2009).
Studies carried by various universities used the functional magnetic resonance imaging technique to be used as a means of measuring the level of activity within the different areas of the brain. In the analysis, the study compared the neurological activity of people deprived of 35 hours of sleep and that of people who had normal supply of sleep. The researchers found that the tests on verbal learning, and memory, the subjects who were sleep deprived indicated a different pattern of brain activity from the brain activity of the people with sufficient sleep. Sleep deprived people performed poorly on the verbal memory questions carried out than the subjects with sufficient sleep. The subjects with sleep deprivation showed increased brain activity in the parietal lobes and the prefrontal cortex. On the other hand, the brains activity of the subjects with sufficient sleep occurred in the temporal lobes (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
The above study indicates that sleep deprivation affects the functionality of the brain. Recent development of brain imaging techniques has been able to easily relate sleep deprivation to brain activities and behavioral performance. Prior to brain imaging, most studies utilized total sleep deprivation on the behavior performance and cerebral functions in a controlled setting without analyzing the brain utilizing functionality magnetic resonance or positron emission tomography (Kattler, DIJK, & Borbely, 2009). All the positron emission tomography studies indicated and decreased performance after total sleep deprivation, a decrease in the levels of global glucose metabolism in the body, and decreased level of activation in attention and arousal regions of the brain like the thalamus.
Sleep deprivation increases the risk of human caused errors related accidents and is comparable to some levels of alcoholism. The prevalence rate of sleep deprivation in adults can be estimated as at 20% of working adults. A study carried out in order to determine the prevalence in adults during the day for a period over five and a half years, on 1007 young adults selected randomly. The study found that the nocturnal sleep time across the study subjects stood at 6.7 hours during the weekday and 7.4 hours during the weekends. Sleepiness resulted in an inversely proportionality to the hours slept by the subject. This study indicated that between 8 to 9 hours of nocturnal sleep are required to resolve the sleep deprivation in adults suffering from sleep deprivation (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
The identification of the sleep homeostatic mechanism improves the human understanding the impact of human neurobehavioral functions. Neurobiology concerning the wake sleep regulation is abundant to the public but the functions caused by the neuro-cognitive behavior of an individual. Wake and sleep is modulated by an endogenous biological clock found in the suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus. The impact of the neurological clock of the brain does not only regulate the sleep and wake modalities but also modulates the human waking behavior. This is reflected in the generation of circadian rhythm, sleepiness, and cognitive performance in all human neurobehavioral instigations. The homeostatic process indicates the drive or need to sleep that increases during the daytime and decrease during the night. When the homeostatic drive increases beyond the normal threshold, the sleep gets triggered, when the drive reduces below the normal threshold, wakefulness gets triggered. The circadian process indicates the daily oscillatory modulation rotating around the threshold set by the homeostatic developments (Monk et al., 2003). The circadian process can be attributed to the alertness people possess in the morning, when they wake up. The deprivation of sleep increases the homeostatic drive in individuals because it degrades the neurocognitive functions in of the brain even when the time is for wakefulness (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
Sleep deprivation in people increase the sleep propensity that can be measured by polysomnography, which indicates the reduction in latency level to the sleep onset of an individual. This can be measured through the rapid eye movement through to a slow wave thalamocortical oscillation in the eye movement. If a person goes without sleep during the night, the daytime latency of the person decreases. Sleep latency is a standardized physiological measure of sleep deprivation in human beings.
Sleep deprivation degrades vital aspects of neurocognitive performance in human beings. All studies carried out on sleep deprivation indicates a negative result in the mood of a person such as feeling fatigued, anxiety, loss of vigor, confusion, and sleepiness. Experimental evidence also indicates that anxiety, depression, or irritability can be caused by sleeping in uncomfortable places. Meta analysis indicates that the impact of sleep deprivation on the fatigue and mood states of the affected persons is much greater than the cognitive performance of the person. Involuntary micro sleeps occur among people with sleep deprivation and this affect their productivity. Jobs that require attention are not to be performed by sleep-deprived individuals, as errors of omission and commission among them are rampant (Smith & Jonide, 1997). Time pressure also increases the cognitive errors in these people leading to slow reaction and response time. The memories of these people are affected because their recollection declines tremendously (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
Hallucination is a common side effect of sleep deprivation and is relatable to the I-function that integrates all the inputs made from all the arts of the brain. When the neurons that make up the I-function are overly taxed, the picture the-function creates may be different from the actual picture. When the neurons become under pressure to continue performing yet unable to function optimally, it creates pictures that enable the person to easily understand their environment (Frackowiak, 1994). The metabolic level of the prefrontal cortex in a person deprived of sleep for more 24 hours can drop to as low as eleven percent. As a person continues to lack sleep, the neurons continue to be strained, the I-function resort to the generation of less coherent images, and in the long run this can result in temporary insanity. The immune system of a person can be weakened when they lack sleep and can eventually result in to the death of the person. Lack of sleep reduces the amount of white blood cells in the body as well as the activity of the existing white blood cells. Moreover, the body reduces the quantity of hormonal growth it produces to enable well development of the body functionality (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
Sleep deprivation leads to the shutting down of the brain and this affects the behavior of an individual because the brain fails to relay vital information to the body. When studies use the images formed in the brain of the subjects of the study, it becomes easier to relate the behavior of a person to the brain patterns of the individual. Since a vehicle cannot operate for three continuous days without rest or refill of gas to allow it function properly, the brain too requires constant rest to enable it regenerate the neurons that it requires to function properly and optimally. A keen look at the brain indicate that different parts of the brain rest on dissimilar phases of the sleep cycle, the brain requires that sleep not be cut short to allow it to fully rest. When the brain fails to acquire full periods of rest, people will experience periods of micro sleep as the brain tries to recover from the lack of rest (Dorrian, Rodgers, & Dinges, 2005).
Micro sleeps occur before failure in performance in the people lacking enough sleep (Monk et al., 2003). Without adequate sleep, the brain deteriorates, and there exists a positive relationship between brain functionality and behavior. This means that when the brain starts to deteriorate, the behavior of the person also starts to negatively change. As the world changes rapidly affecting the level of sleep debt in individuals, increased awareness and impact of sleep deprivation has to be availed to the public. Sleep deprivation affects the productivity of people in whatever they undertake and may prove to be costly to the people.