How Sleep Affects Brain Function

Ever wonder what your brain is doing while we are sleeping? As our bodies are virtually motionless, our brains are very active during sleep. Research shows that the brain uses sleep to strengthen existing neural as well as building new pathways. New pathways in the brain help us with both concentration and reaction time. The brain also may cleanse itself while the body is at rest, which helps our ability to learn and remember.

When we are sleep deprived, the brain slows down our thinking process all together, leading to confusion and even increases our chances of engaging in risky behaviors. Remember - sleepy brains do not make the best decisions. This also extends to driving. Researchers tested people and determined that people who were sleep deprived that got behind the wheel drove as poorly as intoxicated drivers. This is due to alcohol and lack of sleep both slowing down reaction times.

Sleep also has a crucial effect on our mood. People who consistently miss out on sleep have a greater risk of depression

So, what can you do to feel and perform at your best? The National Sleep Foundation recommends these three tips. First, create good sleep habits. Second, get the recommended amount of sleep based on your age. Third, talk to your doctor.


Lauren Hale, Ph.D.

This video features Lauren Hale, Ph.D.. Lauren Hale, Ph.D. is the editor in chief of the National Sleep Foundation's professional journal, Sleep Health. Hale is also the associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University and has authored more than 55 published peer-reviewed articles.

Duration: 02:02. Last Updated On: 2015-12-16
Reviewed by: Dr. Preeti Parikh . Review date: August 02, 2015
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