Seven Steps to Oneness - Journey to a Whole New Life

Is Sleep Deprivation Really Like Being Drunk?

Posted by on February 21, 2020 in Hazards, Issues & Diseases, Health with 0 Comments

Nothing is more refreshing and revivifying than a good night's sleep. Waking up in the morning after sleeping well and for an appropriate amount of time, ideally 8 hours, allows your brain to fully function and perform well throughout the day at processing information and cognitive tasks.

Sleep deprivation, however, creates a host of negative consequences on your brain's ability to function properly, ones that are similar to how your brain functions when drunk. Comparing how sleep deprivation is like being drunk can be an eye-opener and should inspire us to take our sleep health more seriously.

Impact on Cognition

Just as when you consume too much alcohol, sleep deprivation over time leads to a decreased ability of your brain to function. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the processing of information in the brain by slowing down the ability of your brain's neurons. Similarly, sleep deprivation leads to slower neuron function and slows down key cognitive functions. Just as too much alcohol can make it difficult to remember information or think through problems, too little sleep also impacts memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills.

Impact on Motor Skills

Alcohol, as a depressant, slows brain function within your neurons. Not only does this impact cognitive function, it also impacts and slows motor functions of the body controlled by your brain. Both large motor functions, such as walking a straight line, and small motor functions, such as tying shoelaces, are more challenging to do under the influence of alcohol. Sleep deprivation also leads to decreased motor functioning, making you more likely to stumble or feel unsteady on your feet as well as the sensation of having clumsy fingers that struggle to do simple fine motor tasks, such as typing, at normal efficiency.

Impact on Reaction Time

Because all of the functions of your brain are slowed and altered when you consume alcohol, it should be no surprise that your reaction time is also dulled. Reaction time to stimuli is a finely balanced dance within your brain, wherein your brain is processing sensory stimuli, making cognitive decisions as to what the stimuli means, and sometimes acting on the stimuli by using your large or fine motor skills to react. This is best illustrated by the impact of alcohol on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. If you have ever experienced sleep deprivation, you may have noticed that you don't feel quite as alert behind the wheel of a car, or you may find yourself reacting more slowly to other everyday stimuli, such as your name being called in a waiting room.

Quality sleep is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Chronic sleep deprivation creates short-term and long-term health consequences that can be averted by creating better sleep habits. If you are not sure if you are suffering from sleep deprivation, take the time to keep a sleep diary to see if you have sleeping and waking patterns that lead to less sleep. Additionally, as you keep a sleep diary for your sleeping hours, consider noting times during the daytime hours when you nap or even just doze off for a few seconds.  Dozing off for short periods of time is known as microsleep and these short episodes may be indicative of a greater sleep deprivation issue.

A good night's sleep is truly the best medicine for your brain and body. Investing in good sleep can change the daily rhythms of your days and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

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