Sleep Deprivation and Cognition
According to the restorative theory of sleep, sleep is needed to maintain the physical health of the body. When people sleep the chemicals that were used during the day are replenished and cellular damage is repaired (Adam, 1980; Moldofsky, 1995). Therefore sleep deprivation causes chemical depletion, and cellular damage ensues, causing a number of ramifications the most common being cognition, motor performance and mood. Many studies have been conducted on sleep deprivation, varying in findings only mediating that the results of these studies are dependent upon measures used in the assessments and problems associated with sleep loss are rooted in the brain. The first experimental study of sleep deprivation on humans was performed in 1896. It involved three people experiencing ninety hours of voluntary sleep deprivation. Results showed extreme discomfort, excessive tiredness and in one case mild hallucinations. Since then numerous studies have been performed. There have been many of other studies on total sleep deprivation, but fewer on partial deprivation. Neurocognitive measures vary widely between partial and total deprivation. The categories of measurement are the cognitive performance, motor performance, and mood throughout deprivation periods. All forms of sleep deprivation result in negative mood, fatigue, loss of motivation, drowsiness and confusion. Yes, feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression are believed to stem from inadequate sleep, but there is no evidence stating that the effects on the (sleep deprived) individual is dependent on the environment in which the individual is in. However, these changes have been observed repeatedly in sleep deprived individuals regardless of the circumstances. Pitcher and Huffcut’s article “Effects on sleep deprivation on performance: a meta-analysis” suggests that the consequences of sleep deprivation negatively affect fatigue and mood more than it does cognition, and...
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