MySleepApnea.Org

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Posted on: July 2, 2008

Sleepy brains prone to power failure:

 Being deprived of sleep even for one night can make the brain unstable and prone to sudden shutdown, like a power failure- brief lapses that hover between sleep and wakefulness.

  It’s as though it is both asleep and awake and they are switching between each other very rapidly, causing such disorientation in a sleep deprived person. Imagine your sitting in a room watching a movie with the lights on. In a stable or wakeful brain the light stay on all the time, where-as a sleep brain, the lights will suddenly go off and you’ve dozed off, unaware.

  The findings also suggest that people who are sleep deprived alterante between periods of near-normal brain function and dramatic lapses in attention and visual processing. Researchers did brain imaging studies on 24 adults who performed simple tasks involving visual attention when they were well rested and when they had missed a nights’ sleep.

  The researchers used a type of brain imaging know as functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI, which measures blood flow in the brain.

  They found significant, momentary lapses in several areas of the brain, which seemed to frequently falter when the people were deprived of sleep, but when these same people were well rested. These people were doing tasks and trying to work very hard through their sleepiness, to remember what they had learned.

  These lapses seem to suggest that loss of sleep renders the brain incapable to fully fending off involuntary drive to sleep. The study also makes it clear how dangerous sleep deprivation can be while driving on a highway, when even a four-second lapse could lead to a major accident.

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