How Lack of Sleep Impacts Our Cognitive Performance and its Practical Implications

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The importance of good sleep is paramount for our well-being. Lack of sleep affects our decision-making process, our ability to remember information and think clearly.

Not enough sleep affects the set of abilities mandatory for all spheres of our everyday lives. Sleep deprivation isn’t a friend to our executive function and cognitive performance. In fact, it impairs our executive function.

No one can get used to sleep deprivation as it affects every individual. Lack of sleep has a negative impact on our critical thinking abilities and makes it harder to pay attention and focus which directly affects your productivity and overall working performance.

Perhaps one of the worst things about lack of sleep is that it slows down your reaction time which brings up a lot of safety-related risks at home and at work.

Short and long-term memory

When it comes to cognitive performance, sleep makes you feel good and in the mood which feeds your creativity and helps synthesize new ideas. We need a night of good sleep to get the most out of our problem solving and innovative, high-level thinking abilities as sleep helps reactivate memories and strengthen the bonds between neurons.

This is extremely important for the ability to transfer information from short to long-term memory. Lack of sleep makes people slow and forgetful, with difficulties to either recall or retain the information they have learned. With all this in mind, we’ll delve deeper into the subject of how a lack of sleep impacts our cognitive performance.

Every cognitive skill is affected by sleep

Sleep deprivation compromises every cognitive skill known to us as not enough sleep has pervasive effects on our brain. Not enough sleep puts people off their mental game and makes them distracted.

Our cognitive performance depends on the ability of our neurons to communicate with one another in order to function properly. Lack of sleep interferes with this ability which makes it difficult for us to focus, process information, and make decisions.

So, the lack of sleep compromises our entire mental performance. Since sleep deprivation changes our brain functions which directly impacts our cognitive performance, the known consequences are:

  • A disruption that affects energy levels, mood, and thought
  • Interference with optimal brain activity
  • The brain is always active which prevents the individual from taking a rest

If we take all this into consideration, we can see that lack of sleep brings up a lot of practical implications when it comes to our cognitive performance.

Difficulties with focus

Sleep deprivation impacts your attention which makes it hard to focus on any daily task. It’s even more unfortunate that lack of sleep isn’t a one-time problem. It’s rather a condition that continually compromises your attention and leads to chronic sleep issues.

This underlying, chronic sleep problem is directly related to ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Attention is all about concentration and focus. It’s an ability to stay on top of a thinking process until you make meaningful progress.

If we take a look at how this impacts our ability to work and stay productive, it’s more than clear that we need good focus as it is key to our overall performance.

Lack of sleep and reaction time

Lack of sleep slows down your reaction time which affects your reflexes. It directly slows down neurons which makes it hard for your brain cells to absorb visual information and convert it into conscious thinking.

Sleep deprivation is almost like being drunk. Alcohol makes us dull. Our reaction time is slowed down by its influence. It’s almost the same with chronic sleeplessness. For those who have responsible jobs, this is what makes a difference between saving lives and endangering lives.

Lack of sleep affects the way we react to changing circumstances around us.

Troubles with memory

Sleep deprivation makes it hard to make and store memories. Sleeping plays a crucial role in our cognitive health. Insomnia is directly related to cognitive decline in later years. Those who sleep well have no problems with their memory as sleep is simply essential to all phases of our memory. Memory has three phases:

  • Acquiring memories
  • Storing memories
  • Recalling memories

These phases are very complex and involve almost every area of the brain. Therefore, chronic lack of sleep makes it extremely difficult to make, store and recall memories which makes us dull, off the edge, and forgetful. This has devastating consequences for both normal life functioning.

Learning skills and sleep deprivation

Lack of sleep impairs learning and therefore, our ability to store new information. Being short on sleep makes it harder to remember important details related to your work and other productive activities.

Even though acquiring and recalling happens when you’re awake, it’s memory consolidation or storing that truly matters for our optimal cognitive performance. Since lack of sleep directly affects memory consolidation, it compromises your memory and learning skills permanently.

Judgment skills and decision-making

Both complex decision-making and planning abilities are greatly affected by lack of sleep. People with sleeping problems are less likely to make nuanced and complicated judgment calls due to the lack of balance between reward and risk.

Sleepy people can’t think clearly nor make impulsive decisions without thinking about the best outcomes over time but are also prone to engaging in risky behavior.

With compromised decision-making and judgment skills, persons are less creative and productive. They’re confused, feeling fatigued and distracted, feeling low on energy and finding it hard to deal with their daily tasks and obligations. They tend to constantly feel groggy and this mental fatigue makes it extremely difficult to deal with everyday obstacles.

Lack of sleep also affects our emotions and the ability to express them. All in all, lack of sleep directly impacts your working skills and abilities and can become a decisive factor in determining the overall quality of life. Without proper sleep, all people find it hard to cope with their working duties and reality in general.

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