Your brain doesn’t work as well
According to the CDC, insufficient sleep is a public health problem, with more than a third of adults in the U.S. getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours per night. When you don’t get adequate sleep—whether due to a chronic issue like sleep apnea, lifestyle reasons like long work hours or raising young children, or bad habits like bingeing on Facebook before bed—it takes a toll on your brain’s ability to function. “MRI imaging shows lack of sleep reduces blood flow to areas of the brain that control higher level thought processes,” says Richard Shane, PhD, a behavioral sleep specialist and the founder of the Sleep Easily method. “It impairs your problem-solving abilities, slows your cognitive speed, and decreases constructive thinking skills and logical reasoning.” Your noggin needs time to rest and repair—one study of chronic insomniacs showed they had smaller, less dense brains than people who were well-rested. Here’s how sleep deprivation is making us sick, fat, and stupid.
You become forgetful
Another effect of sleep deprivation is an inability to retain memories. “Insufficient sleep interferes with your ability to focus and learn efficiently, which is essential for you to remember something,” Dr. Shane says. “Research shows that sleep strengthens nerve connections involved in memory, and also helps consolidate new information into memories. Insufficient sleep interferes with this.” Michael J. Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist known as “The Sleep Doctor,” explains that you need enough REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in order for your brain to solidify memories. “REM sleep is where you move information from your short term memory to your long term memory,” he says. “When you do not get enough sleep, you miss out on REM, and this effects memory.”