The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Brain Essay

The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Brain


Having enough sleep is quite important as it enables regeneration body parts such as the brain. On the contrary, the modern community seems to be marked much work and limited time to complete it on daily basis. This prompts some individuals to engage in decreasing their sleeping time over time to accomplish their work demands. However, this has numerous negative effects to the health of the individual. Such include promotion of stress and depression in individuals among other effects on the brain. This paper seeks to identify and discuss the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.

Effects of sleep deprivation on brain

            Sleep deprivation has a number of effects on the brain, particular its cognitive functioning. First, sleep deprivation compromises the turning off of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are responsible for the transmission of information across the various brain regions, thus allowing for effective coordination of its activities (Kushida 61). For this to be achieved, enough sleep is necessary as it allows production of neurotransmitters to be turned off, a move that gives their receptors adequate time to rest and regenerate their sensitivity. With regained sensitivity, brain receptors allow for the efficient functioning of monoamines at their normal production rate (Kushida 61).

In addition, monoamines such as norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine are responsible for regulating moods and learning ability of an individual. On the other hand, sleep deprivation leads to continuous functioning of neurotransmitters (Ledoux). This deprives their receptors time to rest and regain their monoamines sensitivity. Such have the implication of decreasing their sensitivity to monoamines produced at natural levels, an element, which numerous research findings have attributed to depression. This is because naturally produced monoamines do not function effectively in regulating moods.

Research has indicated that in rapid eye movement sleep, natural decrease in the level of monoamines in the brain is not permissible (National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Strokes). During this time however, neurotransmitter receptors require more monoamines to meet their compromised sensitivity. This leads to an increase in the level of neurotransmitters in the brain; causing further negation of brain receptor sensitivity. Such lead to a vicious cycle of reducing receptor-monoamines sensitivity, thus resulting into depression. For victims of depression, this cycle worsens the situation as it prompts the brain to engage in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

The second effect of sleep deprivation is that it leads to increased production of stress hormones. Numerous animal studies have closely linked sleep deprivation to increased stress hormones production (National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Strokes). These hormones are responsible for the failure or low rate of new brain cell generation, particularly in adults. Further, having enough sleep is found to create conducive environment for the repair of damaged brain cells by enzymes. This is especially true for cells that have been damaged by free radicals in the brain. However, this process is hindered by the high metabolic activities while awake as such serves to damage the enzymes a factor which inhibits effective repair (National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Strokes).

Another effect of sleep deprivation is that bit increases activities in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It is worthy noting that this brain region is responsible for controlling body reactions and regulations to factors like stress, moods, sexual activities, and digestion among others. This leads to potential decline in the level of adrenal in the brain, a factor that has been closely associated with causing idiopathic hypersomnia (UCSan Diego). Moreover, increased exhausting of the effective sensitivity of brain receptors is blamed for suppressing the production of growth hormones in the body. The human brain is responsible for controlling the activities of all parts of the body. Thus, with much attention given to improving the level of monoamines in the brain, the brain has limited ability to control other functions.

Sleep deprivation negates the cognitive ability of the brain. Sleep deprivation has been linked with causing mental impairments such as psychosis and bipolar disorders. This is evident from the findings of a 2007 research at the Harvard Medical School and the University of California at Berkeley. According to the findings, victims of sleep deprivation lack the effective ability to give correct perceptions on current emotional events (Ledoux). Further, the study asserted the incapability of the victims to make reliably controlled and appropriate responsive decisions to such events (Ledoux). Therefore, sleep deprivation is responsible for compromising the efficient functioning of the brain memory, reasoning, and judgmental ability.


            It is evident that sleep deprivation has numerous negative effects on the brain. This is mainly because it inhibits turning off of neurotransmitters, thus denying brain receptors the opportunity to rest and regain their sensitivity to stimulus. This compromises the ability of receptors to effectively respond to monoamines, an element that is responsible for elevating depression in the victim.  In addition, sleep deprivation can result into increased production of stress hormones which inhibits the production of new brain cells. Still, the behavior potentially leads to ineffective repairing of damaged brain cells (UCSan Diego). This is because the high metallic rate caused by sleep deprivation serves to damage the enzymes responsible for the repair. Thus, sleep deprivation is a real threat to the sustainable mental health of an individual.

Works cited

Kushida, Clete. Sleep Deprivation: Basic Science, Physiology, and Behavior. New York: Informa Health care, 2005.

Ledoux, Sarah. “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain Behavior.” The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain Behavior. 1 Mar. 2008. 12 Aug. 2010. <>

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.”  Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. 21 May. 2007. 12 Aug. 2010. <>

UCSan Diego. “Brain Activity is Visibly Altered Following Sleep Deprivation.” Brain Activity is Visibly Altered Following Sleep Deprivation. 29 Jly. 2010. 12 Aug. 2010. <>