What Happens To Your Brain When You Don't Get Enough Sleep

There are many things you can do to achieve better sleep. An important one is to get more time in the sun to encourage the body’s production of melatonin, otherwise known as the sleep hormone. You might not think it's important if you don't get enough sleep every night, but this can be really bad for your brain. Research has found that just one night without sleep can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, and not just because you feel tired and lack energy.

In a study from UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, 26 people were divided into two groups. One group stayed up for 35 hours, and the other slept normally. Then, both groups were shown horrific images, such as of mutilated bodies, before their brain activity was measured. The results found that the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the “flight or flight” response, is boosted when people don’t get enough sleep, which means that logical reasoning takes a backseat. And that's just from one night of no sleep! Here are other things that happen to your brain from a lack of vital sleep.

Your Brain Slows Down

An American study found that sleep deprivation actually disrupts the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other. This explains why you might find it difficult to concentrate or remember things when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Instead of having quick communication, brain neurons respond slower and weaker.

Your Brain Gets Damaged

An Italian study of mice found that not getting enough sleep can harm your brain. The researchers divided mice into four groups. One group slept for six to eight hours, another was woken up throughout their sleep, the third group of mice was kept awake for eight hours, and the fourth group was forced to stay awake for five days in a row. What the researchers found was that when they compared brain activity of the mice in different groups, the mice who were sleep-deprived experienced sustained microglia activation. This is an inflammatory response that is tied to brain pathology such as neurodegenerative diseases.

You Battle To Control Your Anger

study published in the Telegraph found that when people were sleep deprived, the connection between the medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala in the brain was disturbed. This meant that people lacked the ability to regulate their emotions, causing heightened feelings of anger. If you consider that up to 40 percent of people experience insomnia, this could explain why there are so many angry people on our roads and in our lives.

You Risk A Mental Disorder

Interestingly, when you don’t have enough sleep for one night, you might have symptoms of mania, such as a boost to your mood because your brain’s released hormones to keep you awake. However, soon your mood will crash, leading to depression symptoms. Lack of sleep over time is tied to depression, as some studies have confirmed that people who survive on less than six hours of sleep at night are likely to suffer from this mental disorder.

Your Hormones Are Disrupted, Causing Weight Gain

If you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s ghrelin hormones which are known to stimulate feelings of hunger, increase by up to 15 percent, according to a Stanford University study. This hormonal release, some of which comes from the brain, can make you pile on the weight, fast – sometimes up to 2.2. pounds in one week!

Getting enough sleep is important for your energy levels, but it really helps your brain to function optimally. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain slows down and its functions are disrupted, which can lead to a range of problems. Encourage healthier sleeping habits, such as by getting more sun and finding ways to cut stress from your life, so that you get the quality of sleep your brain so desperately craves.