a man covers his eyes as he considers the dangers of being sleep deprived

The Dangers of Being Sleep Deprived

Lack of sleep can give people headaches, make them irritable, and even leave them feeling drunk. Many don’t know that lack of sleep can also cause a sense of euphoria that can cloud a person’s judgment and reasoning ability. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, this euphoria and lack of sound mind can also make some more susceptible to addictive behavior and mood disorders. If you’re suffering from symptoms of being sleep deprived, it’s important to see a doctor so you can get the help you need. Additionally, if you have experienced a substance use disorder as a result of sleep deprivation, please contact our addiction and mood disorder treatment options at Recovery Ranch TN today by calling 1.844.876.7680.

What Does Research Say About Being Sleep-Deprived?

Researchers at UC Berkeley and Harvard Medical School used MRI scans to study the brains of 27 healthy young adults. Half of those individuals received a good night’s rest, while the other half received no sleep at all. The researchers discovered that sleep deprivation led to stimulation of the pleasure pathways in the brain. Interestingly, those same pleasure pathways responsible for generating feelings of euphoria, reward, and motivation, are also big motivating factors in risk-seeking behavior. 

Lead researcher, Matthew Walker, states that sleep deprivation leaves the brain operating a little like a pendulum, swinging between mood extremes. After a decent night’s rest, the brain is able to equalize the mood spectrum, allowing for better decision-making skills. Conversely, a lack of sleep tends to make one focus on positive rewards while discounting the potential negative outcome. 

The researchers showed both groups of participants cards with pictures and asked them to rate the pictures as positive or neutral. Those with no sleep were more likely to assign a positive rating, while those well-rested individuals tended to be more neutral in their responses. Additionally, MRI scans of those lacking sleep showed increased activity in the mesolimbic pathway of the brain. This is the part of the brain that dopamine controls. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of positivity, drive, sexual desire, addiction, hunger, and reasoning ability. 

Does This Research Compare with Other Research on Being Sleep Deprived?

The UC Berkeley study is consistent with other findings on the same topic. In fact, a recent study conducted by researchers at Duke University shows that gambling after little sleep leaves people hoping for a big win instead of trying to minimize their loss. Just as alcohol provides liquid courage, it appears that lack of sleep encourages gamblers to place bets that they might not have otherwise wagered because they became overly optimistic. 

The Duke study examined 29 individuals in good health who took to the casino after staying up all night with no sleep. Researchers sought to understand sleep deprivation’s effect on their decision-making skills. They also analyzed participants via MRI scans. Examinations of the brain scans showed a change in the part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain helps the gambler weigh and access risk. This part of the brain was noticeably more active than normal, causing the gambler to have skewed views of his odds of winning and losing. 

Researchers say that the results of both studies pave the way for future research into the effects of sleep deprivation. Professor Huettel of Duke University Medical Centre says that health professionals must daily assess the risk of implementing procedures amidst grueling schedules and little rest. These individuals may focus more on the positive outcome of the procedure and less on its potential risk. In professions with little margin for error, one small error could mean the difference between life and death.

Symptoms of Being Sleep Deprived

Lack of sleep can cause a number of physical and mental symptoms, including:

  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Depression, anxiety, and mood swings
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke

These symptoms can have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can help you determine whether lack of sleep is the cause and recommend treatment options.

Find Treatment at Recovery Ranch TN Today

Recovery Ranch TN offers a treatment program that can help you if you are struggling with addiction. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff will help you with the symptoms of being sleep deprived and addiction. We offer a range of substance use disorder services, including:

  • Detox
  • Residential treatment
  • Outpatient care
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Aftercare services

Our program can help you heal physically, mentally, and spiritually. Call us at 1.844.876.7680 today to learn more about how we can help you on the road to recovery.

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