Sleep deprivation effects range from foggy headedness to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Sleep deprivation effects range from foggy headedness to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s

Research shows sleep is vital to memory.

Know that “foggy” feeling you get after a night of little or poor sleep? It’s more than just a sensation. The lack of shut-eye is likely impacting your brain’s ability to function.

“Sleep is incredibly important to a number of brain functions, including how neurons communicate with one another,” said Mohammad S. Alsorogi, M.D., neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute. “In fact, your brain stays remarkably active and does a lot of work while you sleep.”

Research shows sleep is vital to memory. The brain uses that time to consolidate and file memories, which leads to the ability to retrieve them later. Lack of sleep also impacts the brain’s ability to learn and pay attention, which often leads to reduced creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and overall work performance.

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If you suspect a sleep disorder, talk with your primary care provider, who may refer you to a sleep specialist.

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Link Between Poor Sleep and Brain Diseases

Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can have even more serious consequences. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health revealed that just one night of sleep deprivation results in the accumulation of a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Research also shows that a chronic lack of sleep is linked to neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, and psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and overall mood.

“The space between brain cells expands during sleep, which allows the brain to flush out proteins and toxins it doesn’t need,” Dr. Alsorogi said. “This is needed on a nightly basis to keep the brain healthy.”

Studying Sleep Deprivation May Lead to Breakthroughs

While many mysteries remain, scientists continue to learn about how sleep affects brain function and the risks involved with being chronically sleep deprived. A greater understanding between the two might not only help with diagnosing but also preventing certain diseases.

“Sleep changes may eventually allow us to predict and get ahead of treating mood disorders and neurological diseases,” Dr. Alsorogi said. “At the very least, if we can improve sleep, patients should see an improvement in their mood and overall brain function.”


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