Lack of sleep and the brain – the surprising effects of sleep deprivation

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The effects of sleep deprivation on our most majestic organ are devastating.

After one night of poor sleep (yes, just one great new Year's eve party later) your brain starts deteriorating as its cells start DYING.

You see, while we are awake it has too many other important jobs - like thinking, moving our muscles, problem solving and interpreting all the information flying in from all our sense organs - to do any routine maintenance. So when we sleep, our brain gets busy repairing itself, storing memories, strengthening busy neural pathways and dumping unnecessary data.

It also spends the dark hours producing key chemicals to help get us through the day. Wonderful chemicals, like seretonin, dopamine, melatonin and growth hormone, which we need to be happy and healthy.

We always knew that our brains didn't function quite as well the day after, but what we know now (and can see visually on beautiful brain scans) is that the brain, starved of rest, will start SHRINKING!

So the reason you can't remember your way to a colleague's house, can't find the word you want to use in that email and feel down in the dumps could be because thanks to not getting enough Zzzzzzzzzz your brain has burnt the brain cells you needed to retrieve that memory and hasn't had time to make any feel-good hormones for you.

And whilst you can use stimulants like caffeine and sugar to 'improve' you performance, this will be short-lived and actually put more strain on your little pip long-term.

So, make sleep a priority and get to bed! Give your brain a chance to clean up, flush waste and make you smarter and healthier.

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