Why You Feel So Spaced Out When You Don't Get Enough Sleep?


A recent Nature Medicine research has shown why you feel so spaced out after a lack of sleep: your neurons fire far more slowly, which means your brain is essentially running in slow-motion.
Led by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Tel Aviv University, this team of researchers is arguably the first in the world to find direct causal links between sleep deprivation and hampered cognitive reasoning which for years it has never been fully explained.
To examine such neurological link the team asked 12 people who were preparing to undergo surgery for epilepsy to help. They already had electrodes implanted in their brains as part of their ongoing treatment, which were primarily designed to pinpoint the origin of their seizures.
In order to speed up the onset of a seizure for research purposes, the subjects were asked to remain awake. Post-sleep deprivation, the 12 were asked to categorize a series of images as rapidly as possible.
The electrodes, however, managed to track the activity of around 1,500 individual neurons across these 12 patients as they engaged in the task. Special attention was paid to those in the temporal lobe, the part that deals with memory recall and visual perception.
“The neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual,” lead researcher Dr Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a statement.