How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Brain

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How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Brain

Effects of Lack of Sleep on the Brain

In 1973, in a small town in Northern Italy, a woman named Elisabetta died from a mysterious disease. The town physician, after digging deeper into the cause of her death, discovered that she had developed acute insomnia. This made Elisabetta suffer from paranoia and confusion for months before her death.

Similarly, in 2012, a 26-year-old man died after staying up for 11 consecutive days watching a Euro Soccer Match marathon.

What these two people had in common was sleep deprivation. Almost everyone knows the importance of sleep, yet ironically the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a third of adults lack sleep regularly.

The most common effects of lack of sleep on the brain include:

Poor Concentration

Lack of sleep may be related to the decline in human growth hormone (HGH), which is responsible for keeping the cells in our body young and healthy. 

The brain, like all other organs, needs a regular supply of HGH. It becomes harder for the brain to produce enough of the HGH needed to maintain normal behavior and health.

Because lack of sleep affects how you think, you won’t be able to solve problems like you normally would. A lack of rest can slow down reactions and lead to an inability to problem-solve.

Performing routine tasks like driving and working, and even using language skills, will become difficult—lack of sleep on the brain hinders its ability to process information at a capable level of efficiency.

Memory Loss

This includes memory recall, information processing, and decision-making, directly affecting everything you do daily. Don’t forget that you need a certain concentration level for memory recall. 

Due to mental fatigue, lack of sleep on the brain can hamper concentration and thus cause memory loss. It’s like a domino effect in your brain.

Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Delirium tremens is dreaming while you are awake. This disorder can cause seizures, hallucinations, comatose, dementia, and cardiovascular collapse. 

People affected by alcohol withdrawal suffer from this the most. This disorder is often misdiagnosed since the symptoms of DTs closely mimic those of other illnesses, such as allergies or asthma.

Some researchers believe that DTs could be caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain due to a lack of proper mechanics in the brain during sleep.


Stroke is the third-largest cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. It can cause permanent damage to the brain and is very difficult to diagnose in its early stages because the symptoms are so similar to those of many other diseases. 

Lack of sleep on the brain often leads to strokes—yet another good reason to improve sleep hygiene and limit the intake of substances that exacerbate sleeplessness, like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

Combat Damaging Lack of Sleep on the Brain

So how can you combat sleep deprivation and get fulfilling rest? 

Again, you should always start by practicing healthy sleep hygiene habits. Try to build a bedtime routine and sleeping environment that ensures you get a good night’s sleep every night, promoting relaxing comfort and restfulness for your brain, body, and senses.

You could also try taking short naps throughout the day to fight fatigue, but be careful not to overdo it, or else you’ll throw off your circadian rhythm and worsen the effects of lack of sleep on the brain.

Remember to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to keep yourself hydrated and prevent dehydration; avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and junk food.

Insomnia and untreated sleep apnea, however, are more serious causes of sleep deprivation that require more than great sleep hygiene, which should be addressed by an expert as soon as possible.

Find Relief From Sleep Deprivation Here

What’s keeping you from getting your best night’s sleep every night? 

Whether you need a full sleep study, a fitting for a CPAP alternative device, or more advice on sleep hygiene, our experts can help. Need expert sleep advice? Contact our welcoming team of knowledgeable sleep specialists at TMJ & Sleep Solutions today.