It's not surprising to learn sleep deprivation can have negative affects on how well you process and remember information. Read below to learn more about how sleep affects the mind.
Sleep deprivation affects brain function
As you sleep memories are shifted to more efficient areas in your brain. This makes procedural skills, such as playing sports or interpreting complex information, more automatic than in those who are sleep deficient. (1)
Positive brain functions are more active in rested individuals
Brain scans called Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) show those receiving sufficient amounts of sleep have more active cerebellums, the part of the brain known for controlling mental speed and accuracy. (1) (2)
Sleep may improve mood
The limbic system of the brain manages emotions. Well rested individuals who also underwent fMRI scans showed less activity in this area, a finding that has been consistent with positive attitudes and lower levels of anxiety. (1)
Sleep Apnea causes Hypoxia
Oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, occurs whenever one has an apneic event. A recent study indicates those enduring hypoxia during sleep are more likely to have cognitive impairments. (3)
Brain activity varies in rested vs unrested individuals
When deprived of sleep individuals showed activity in a different part of their brain than when rested. This suggests one part of the brain may compensate for inactivity in another part. (2)
Sleep promotes memory retention
Changes occurring in the brain during sleep help improve memory, which may explain why infants and those suffering brain trauma require more sleep than healthy adults. (1)
(1) “Study Shows How Sleep Improves Memory” - ScienceDaily, June 2005, August 2011 (source).
(2) “Brain Activity is Visibly Altered Following Sleep Deprivation” - UC - San Diego Health System, July 2002, August 2011 (source).
(3) “Sleep Apnea Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia in Elderly Women” - UC - San Francisco. August 2011. August 2011 (source).