8 Things Staying Up All Night Does To Your Brain
So, you have eleventy million things to do and there only 24 hours in a day, which can make it tempting to forgo sleep. But, while it might seem like a good idea in the moment, you'll pay for it in the long run because there are some things staying up all night does to your brain, and they're not necessarily good. With Daylight Saving Time having sprung forward on Mar. 11, we all lost an hour of sleep. While losing just one hour of sleep is harmful, losing an entire night of sleep can be downright dangerous. And, a new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that lack of sleep has more negative effects for women than it does for men. What's more, while women suffer more memory problems from lack of sleep, most of them aren't consciously aware of it.
"This drop in working memory performance following sleep loss might be especially worrisome in situations where those suffering from sleep deprivation may not notice their functional deficit," the study reported. "As suggested by our findings, in this context particular attention should be paid to young women facing challenges in which they have to cope with both a high working memory load and lack of sleep." So, if you're pulling an all nighter, and dragging yourself into work the next day, you might be sluggish and have a hard time remembering things. But, that's not the only side effect from lack of sleep. These things that happen to you brain when you stay up all night might surprise you.
1. Staying Up All Night Effects Your Ability To Learn
Thinking of going to work or school when you're sleep deprived? You're actually better of staying home, though that's usually not a realistic option. WebMD reported that when you try to learn something new after staying up all night, you probably won't remember it. Because, sleep-deprived people aren't able to retain new information, pulling an all night to cram for a test is actually a complete waste of time that is better spent sleeping.
2. Being Sleep Deprived Contributes To Depression
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven-to-nine hours of sleep a night. If you regularly get less, it can have a negative effect on your mental health. WebMD reported that people who consistently get less than six hours of sleep a night are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. "Lack of sleep caused by another medical illness or by personal problems can make depression worse." What's more, some people with depression are more likely to suffer from insomnia, which creates a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and depression feeding each other.
3. Not Sleeping Increases Poor Judgment
Similar to alcohol, sleep deprivation can increase your chances of making bad decisions, according to WebMD. "Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely." Additionally, people who don't get enough sleep have particularly poor judgment when it comes to identifying sleep deprivation as the reason they're making bad decisions. If you're not sleeping, and making a string of regrettable choices, it might be time to turn off your phone, pull the covers over your head, and get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
4. Chronic Sleep Deprivation Makes Your Brain Eat Itself
OK, this might be the best reason to make sure you're getting enough sack time. New Scientist reported that chronic sleep deprivation makes your brain eat itself. While in the short term, your brain eating old worn out cells is helpful, consistently not getting enough sleep means that your brain might not be making new cells as fast as it's eating the old ones. And, this could increase your chances of developing dementia when you get older. Um, no thanks.
5. Staying Up All Night Is Akin To Being Drunk
If you want to feel drunk without spending any money, then just stay up all night. Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote for Business Insider that staying up for 19 hours in a row does the same thing to your brain as being legally drunk. Walker noted that after 16 hours of being awake your mental function starts to decline, and once you reach 19 hours you have the same decision-making skills and reaction time as a drunk person. Um, you know who regularly stays up all night? Doctors. This doesn't make me feel great about putting my life in the hands of someone with the same level of motor skills as someone who is legally drunk.
6. Lack Of Sleep Makes You More Emotional
Personally, if I don't get enough sleep I am more likely to cry over little things, like there not being a new episode of Blindspot. It turns out that there is a reason for this. A study published in the journal Current Biology found that the amygdala — the part of your brain responsible for detecting danger — is more active in sleep deprived people. This means that when you stay up all night your brain is more likely to put itself on high alert in situations that aren't actually dangerous, which in turn makes you more emotional.
7. Staying Up All Night Makes You Dumb
If you've ever had a conversation with someone who is sleep deprived then you know how frustrating the slow pauses, garbled words, and lack of reason can be. This happens because not sleeping enough can actually make you dumber. "The cognitive penalty affects not only math and language skills, but also emotional intelligence and soft skills," sleep research company Tuck explained on its website. "Modern understanding of intelligence holds that each individual has multiple types of intelligence — e.g. interpersonal, coping, analytical. Tests have shown that all types of intelligence fall after sleep deprivation. The tendency to magical thinking and belief in superstition rises." What's more, people who look worn out from lack of sleep are actually perceived as being less intelligent. Don't want to dumb down your brain? Go to bed.
8. Sleep Deprivation Shrinks Your Brain
Just like leading a sedentary lifestyle can cause your muscles to atrophy, not recharging your brain with sleep can cause your brain to shrink, according to a study published in the journal Neurology. Brain atrophy can impair your ability to communicate effectively, contribute to muscle weakness, hearing loss, seizures, neuropsychological impairment, and more, according to health website Active Beat. Before you freak out, this isn't going to happen from staying up all night once or twice. However, if you pull all nighters on the regular, you're putting yourself at increased risk of developing the incredible shrinking brain. If you're tired AF, and not getting enough sleep at night, consider booking some time at a nap cafe to catch a few extra zzzs. If you're into having your brain eat itself, carry on as you have been — it might make a good storyline on Grey's Anatomy.