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What Happens to Your Mind When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

by Sarah Kaminski 2 years ago in health
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Sleep is an incredibly important aspect of our everyday lives. Yet we seem to keep sacrificing it more than anything else.

Sleep is an incredibly important aspect of our everyday lives. Yet we seem to keep sacrificing it more than anything else. We stay up late for work, we stay up late to go out, and we stay up late for Netflix. And even though we feel sluggish and grumpy the next day, we still keep doing it over and over again.

Let’s explore what actually happens to our minds when we don’t get enough sleep, in the hope that it might make you ditch the late-night TV binge or the late-night catching up with your work, and go to bed instead.

You are not as focused or sharp

When you deprive your brain of sleep, it will simply be unable to focus like it normally does. Even the answers to questions you are normally so sure of and concepts you can normally understand so well will simply elude you.

Focus and mental clarity will remain unattainable as long as you don’t catch up on your sleep. Yes, caffeine can mask the effects of sleep deprivation for a while, but these effects will be short-lived, and the drop back to sluggishness will be abrupt and unpleasant.

You don’t get as much done

Sleep is one of the prerequisites to productivity. When you sleep less than your brain needs to recover and rest, you will not be getting as much done as you normally can. The more tired you are (and the less sleep you get), the less you will be able to get done.

This is why you should always take a break and sleep, as opposed to pulling a very long night. Yes, if it’s a one-time affair and if you are absolutely pressed for time, you can pull an all-nighter and get something finished, but realize that the next day will be a rest day. You simply won’t be able to keep up with your usual self.

On the other hand, if you were to break, sleep, and then recommence the activity you were engaging in beforehand, you would be much more productive and get the thing done faster and better.

You are more forgetful

Our minds make new connections while we sleep. Everything that has happened since you woke up and went to bed is being rehashed and stored as you rest. When you don’t get enough sleep, your mind has no time to make these new connections, and will, therefore, be more forgetful.

Lack of sleep can impact both short- and long-term memory, and the less sleep you are consistently getting, the worse it will be. You may end up forgetting entire events or conversations, and you will definitely not be able to retain new information and learn.

Your thoughts spin out of control easily

Lack of sleep is a major proponent of anxiety, as your thoughts will keep swirling around in your mind, and you will be less capable of controlling them. Even if you don’t normally suffer from anxiety, you will be more challenged to tame your thoughts when you are sleep deprived, and you might catch your mind wandering in all kinds of unexpected directions.

There’s a reason why we say “sleep on it.” Even though it might sound like complete nonsense to the agitated mind, it is actually a great piece of advice. Slowing down and allowing the brain to rest is a great way to rethink a situation, and we will often wake up calmer and ready to tackle the issue. If we can fall asleep, that is.

You are less stable emotionally

A study has found that when we don’t get enough sleep, there is a disturbance in the way our brain works, which results in the inability to regulate our emotions. This may lead to all kinds of heightened feelings, the most popular of which are anger and sadness.

Think about it: how many times have you snapped at someone just because you didn’t get enough sleep? Or perhaps burst into tears over something you never would have normally cried about?

Blame it all on sleep deprivation. You’re simply not fully in charge of your emotions when you’re not sleeping well.

Final thoughts

Sleep is one of the pillars not just of physical health, but mental health as well. Stop sacrificing it for all kinds of reasons – you will come to learn it is simply not worth it.


About the author

Sarah Kaminski

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