An international team of researchers has found that brain activity is weaker and slower in people who are sleep-deprived.
The scientists recorded the neuron activity in the medial temporal lobe of the brain while 12 people completed a facial recognition test, both before and after a full night without sleep.
When they were sleep-deprived, the participants had slower brain activity and completed the task less accurately.
The scientists say the brain is performing in a sleep-like state while awake which could lead to accidents and low productivity.
The clinical study by Yuval Nir from Tel Aviv University and colleagues was published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation have been associated with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.
“The acute effects of a lack of sleep can also cause cognitive and behavioral lapses that contribute to accident-induced injury or death,” the researchers write.
“But it has been difficult to determine precisely how sleep deprivation influences neural activity within the human brain owing to the invasive techniques required to record neural activity.”
Further studies may be required to identify the precise mechanisms through which lack of sleep directly influences neuronal activity.
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