Sleep deprivation can have more than physical effects

Sleep deprivation can have more than physical effects. In fact, reduced sleep quality could put people at greater risk for a number of serious health issues, including memory loss, cognitive decline and impaired sleep…

Sleep deprivation can have more than physical effects

Sleep deprivation can have more than physical effects. In fact, reduced sleep quality could put people at greater risk for a number of serious health issues, including memory loss, cognitive decline and impaired sleep habits, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

In the study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, scientists looked at a study from Severe Sleep Apnea Hospital at the University of Alberta, which studied 120 elderly men and women for 15 weeks. During that time, participants slept anywhere from six to 22 hours a night.

Each participant underwent a series of brain tests and brain scans, and, during each test, participants were not allowed to do anything on their laptop, cellphone or tablet, including eating and drinking liquids, including water.

All the participants were required to come to the hospital a minimum of once per week for chest pain, which was monitored by physical exams.

Then, researchers measured participants’ cognitive performance after five weeks of sleep deprivation.

“During the first three weeks, cognitive tests varied widely in their expected severity, before leveling off to a range with substandard measures. The cognitive tests experienced further, and irreversible, declines, with torsades de pointes (TDP) indicating cortical atrophy in some ways earlier than expected and in others unusual and disruptive for younger participants,” the study states.

Researchers also looked at how sleep deprivation affected the participants’ memory and ability to perform daily tasks, and, specifically, their ability to understand verbal and visual information.

“This study is the first to look at short-term effects of sleep deprivation on processing speed, a process that is instrumental for performing word associations, seeing at a distance, and reading large numbers,” the study states.

Sleep deprivation has a clear impact on short-term memory, the researchers found.

Additionally, significantly more participants experienced the cognitive problems that follow from insufficient sleep in the 18- to 25-year-old range than in the 30- to 40-year-old range.

While some participants developed normal cognitive complaints after just one night of stress, other participants did not.

There were also fewer symptoms of depression in participants 30 and older, and fewer signs of depression following the first night of sleep deprivation in the younger group, according to the study.

There were also fewer signs of brain fog and mental fatigue in the older participants.

Researchers concluded that sleep loss can have serious long-term effects on cognition, and that it’s the second-biggest contributor to memory loss in the 20- to 65-year-old range, behind habitual alcohol use, smoking and depression.

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