girl laying in bed with eye open

Failing to get enough sleep at night can make you feel crummy and tired the next day. But mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even migraines can make getting a good night’s rest that much more difficult. Not only can a lack of sleep affect your cognitive function, but it can also affect your overall health.

When you’re exhausted, you don’t feel your best, and it can be difficult to think straight. While it’s pretty rare to die from the lack of sleep, you’ll probably feel like you’ll pass out if you go more than 24 hours without rest. Neurofeedback training from Grey Matters of Carmel can help mitigate all those symptoms that are causing restless nights – promoting healthier, deeper sleep. Getting plenty of sleep during your training is also key to your success with neurofeedback. So, let’s take a deeper look at how sleep deficiency affects your brain.

What Happens to the Brain During Sleep

Your brain goes through four to six sleep cycles throughout the night, including rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep (NREM). Each cycle ranges from 70 to 120 minutes, and even the body experiences different changes throughout each stage of sleep.

During NREM, your brain’s activity slows, and the delta brain waves remain constant, promoting a healthy, deep, rejuvenating sleep stage. These brain waves are the most pronounced during the third stage of NREM, which is known as slow-wave sleep.

During REM sleep, we see an uptick in brain activity – similar to when you’re awake. But it’s the REM stages that allow your brain to dream, store long-term memories, and get rid of information you no longer need. REM sleep is also more concentrated in the second half of the night, which is why you feel like you remember more of your dreams by the time the alarm clock rings.

While experts aren’t sure why the brain goes through these cycles, they believe the stages promote mental recovery and have cognitive benefits relating to attention, thinking, and memory.

Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deficiency

When you don’t get proper sleep, neurons in your brain become overworked and thus become less capable of performing the tasks you need them to. Short-term sleep deficiency affects the brain and causes fatigue and daytime drowsiness. It further reduces your attention span and learning abilities. Some studies have even found that the lack of sleep can induce the same effects as being drunk.

Not getting enough sleep also alters the functional connections that exist between the prefrontal cortex and the reward and emotional processing centers. A 2009 study found that this alteration leads to hypersensitivity towards rewarding stimuli, causing us to act irrationally.

Furthermore, some research shows that those who suffer from migraines are more likely to have a morning attack following a restless night of sleep. People are also more likely to fall ill, miss more workdays, and experience worsening mental health symptoms when they don’t get enough sleep at night. These, in turn, affect any individual’s emotional and physical well-being, putting a significant strain on social and professional relationships.

Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deficiency

While most of the cognitive effects of sleep deficiency are felt almost immediately, there are still long-term effects, especially for those who live with sleep insomnia or other sleeping disorders. As more research is done on sleep and the vital role it plays in our health, there is mounting evidence that shows the quality of your sleep can lower or increase your chances of cognitive decline and dementia.

Since sleep is crucial in helping the brain sweep out dangerous substances like beta-amyloid proteins, some researchers suggest that long-term poor sleep problems contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. In a brain with Alzheimer’s, beta-amyloid proteins form in plaque clusters that worsen cognitive function. Because of this, many mental health and medical professionals often link cognitive decline diseases with insufficient sleep.

Improve Your Sleep with Neurofeedback Training

When your brain functions at its best, you feel your best. Too often, mental health disorders can keep you from sleeping restfully every night, leaving you feeling drowsy and unmotivated the next day. Neurofeedback training from Grey Matters of Carmel can change that! If you’re ready to experience a better night’s rest, more energy, and better focus, then give us a call at (317) 215-7208.