It is little known that sleep deprivation can lead to a sense of intense euphoria. It is better known that it can leave us cranky, moody, and affecting our demeanour in a negative way. There is short term euphoria created too however, affecting us beyond how a lowered mood affects us. The short term euphoria created as a result of sleeplessness can potentially result in addictive behaviour, and it can result in us making poor judgments.
This is according to new research from scientists in The University of Berkeley.
Whilst these researchers found, that what is known as the circuitry of the brain which denotes the pleasures zones, are affected by this lack of restful input, those very same neural pathways are in line with our behaviour pathways.
As a result risky behaviour is increasingly becoming associated with sleep deprivation. The link is in line with reward and motivation. “When functioning correctly, the brain finds the sweet spot on the mood spectrum. But the sleep-deprived brain will swing to both extremes.” That is according to Matthew Walker, the associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Berkeley who is also the lead author of the study.
The brains’ of healthy young adults have been studied by researchers from this institution in conjunction with researchers from Harvard University, their findings also determined that this short term euphoria can also lead to risky behaviour. According to Walker; people need to give themselves enough sleep. From airline pilots to medical professionals many people need to make high stakes decisions.
He also outlines how it is concerning for him to see that certain medical professionals may be doing twenty hours straight in the job. This he admits will lead to the sense of euphoria, but it will also lead to the risky behaviour that we need to disassociate ourselves from.
The research that has been published outlines how our bodies alternate from one phase of sleep to the other. REM sleep, the study dictates is our space within sleep where dreams are fostered and how it is not a phase of sleep where the mind and body attain their greatest rest. The Non REM state, the restful state in tune with the mind and the muscles of the body relaxing, this is where the best rest is attained.
The findings are backed up by previous studies which denoted how there is a pattern of sleep disruption for those with mood disorders. How the study began, is that scientists realised there was a puzzle to the fact that people with depression suffering the dilemma of a sleepless night emerge with an elevated and heightened mood after the ordeal.
The 27 young healthy minds that participated in the study were examined under ‘functional magnetic resonance,’ this is an imaging technique that highlights the areas of the brain that are in use at different times. The group was split into two, with one half receiving adequate rest, and the other half not being allowed sleep, i.e. they were instructed to pull an all-nighter.
They were then given inputs denoting pleasant soothing scenes including images of cuddly creatures etc. On receiving the inputs they were asked to give a rating to the images as to whether they were promoting neutral or positive impressions within the participants. The sleep deprived group gave a more positive rating to the images than those who were well rested, with the results being realised right across the board.
The actual magnetic resonance that was imaged showed that the sleep deprived group showed their ‘mesolimbic’ pathway activity was very high. This circuit of the brain is fuelled by dopamine which is a positive feeling neurotransmitter. In being such a transmitter it drives positive emotions in us that motivate our sex drive, our addictions, and of course our decision making.
Walker was adamant to point out how, while there may appear to be an advantage in this feeling, this is not the case, overt optimism according to Walker can be detrimental to people and make them make impulsive decisions. In the past the research team had studied how the brains’ key planning and decision making regions are shut down as a result of sleep deprivation.
The two studies are connected by the findings, which show a disconnect in those pathways after a night without sleep, the dopamine connection is inherent in that the other region of the brain the frontal lobe is actually better connected to the dopamine neurotransmitter after a good night’s sleep.
Sleep Deprivation Useless
In conclusion Walker is insistent that sleep deprivation therapy is useless in the treatment of depression.Learn how I beat Depression