Free «Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Brain» Essay Sample


There are many theories about the significance of sleep because it is important for the well being of the brain. Studies show that there is an increased blood flow to the brain and therefore brain tissues receive more nutrition. It is also important to note that as a result of blood flow there is an increased removal of waste products during sleep which improves brain function. Also during sleep it is when an individual dreams. Dreaming is known to help the brain to deal with problems faced by individuals during the waking hours. The outline of this paper is to investigate the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.

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Sleep deprivation makes the brain to function in abnormal ways.

  1. Brain researchers have discovered that the brain strives to compensate for lack of sleep Blakemore & Frith (2005). This can cause people in brain intensive tasks to behave in ways that can cause accidents.
  2. There are several effects of lack of sleep in human beings were they experience hallucinations, poor brain coordination and others become overly suspicious or paranoid and do and say strange things Brooker & Nicol (2003).

Sleep deprivation causes physiological changes

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  1. Sleep deprivation causes physiological changes which include fall in body temperature and poor thermoregulation as well as changes in cardio respiratory function (Brooker & Nicol, 2003).
  2. Brooker & Nicol (2003) argued that “other psychological effects that result from lack of sleep include increased aggressiveness, irritability, and increasingly antisocial behavior” (p. 62).

Sleep deprivation causes the brain to learn slowly

  1. Studies show that sleep deprivation causes a diminished to learn new things Rothstein (2005). For such individuals detailed tasks become more difficult to perform and people get irritable, impatient, and intolerant (Rothstein, 2005). This is because the brain needs to rest for considerable amount of hours to reduce these effects.
  2. In addition some of the peripheral signs of sleep deprivation to the brain include compensatory responses to the decreased plasma thyroid hormones. Pillemer (1998) continues to say that low peripheral concentrations of thyroid hormones result due to the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.

Sleep deprivation causes depression

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  1. Depression is not about being sad but for having depressed brain function. Rothstein (2005) says that people who have do not have enough sleep can be pushed to their limit and can exhaust their brain capability to rejuvenate and hence become depressed. Enough brain rest during the times of stress is crucial to prevent depression.
  2. Depression is caused by heterogeneous changes toward decreased cerebral metabolism and function. Pillemer (1998) says that changes in metabolism function of the brain regions such as the hypothalamus are associated with pathological signs that develop in the periphery which implies causal direction to sleep deprivation effects.

Sleep deprivation causes progressive impairment of cognitive performance

  1. The most robust effect of sleep deprivation includes marked, progressive impairment of cognitive performance. Pillemer (1998) continues to say that sleep deprived individuals experience neurological signs which include tremors, brief losses of equilibrium, slurred speech, and changes in the brain electrical activity.
  2. These effects on brain cause emotionally labiality and regressive or uninhibited behavior (Pillemer, 1998). Such people also experience severe memory loss, seizures, and severe psychiatric status abnormalities.


In conclusion, sleep is critical for the maintenance of the brain. This is because the first stage of sleep is actually a transition state between waking and sleeping hence here the brain waves are fast. The second stage of sleep is light with theta brain waves. Lack of sleep is what causes many insomnia patients complain that they sleep. This means that the more an individual endures sleep deprivation the more his or her brain compromises attention, new learning, and memory. Studies also show that fresh neurons in the brain develop in confident areas of the hippocampus and therefore sleep deprivation impairs the capability of these stanch cells to grow and turn into new neurons.

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