In a few posts before (Oh, the Places We Go! and The Mind on E), I have discussed personal accounts of what sleep deprivation does to my mind. This post is going to focus more on the data collected and facts on sleep deprivation.
Like the effects on the body, sleep deprivation has grave consequences on one’s mind. For starters, lack of sleep slows down thought processes. As your thinking starts to slow, so does your decision making and judgment. Insomniacs are put at a severe disadvantage as they have trouble concentrating, but even more so go about their lives on a daily risk of not being alert enough to function in times of crises. Statistically speaking, this correlates to 20% of crashes being due to the driver fatigue as driving sleep deprived is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%.
Sleep deprivation also causes memory loss. As insomniacs are fighting to function properly during the day, the mind tends to not focus on the small details. Most days I cannot recall what I had for breakfast or even if I had breakfast. The reason for this is that lack of sleep causes a decrease in blood flow and metabolism in some parts of the brain. Additionally, lack of sleep hinders the brain’s function of clearing out toxins, making insomniacs more susceptible to diseases like Alzheimer’s.
As someone who has insomnia, these facts are more than alarming, they are terrifying. The reason why they are terrifying is that there is nothing that we can do about it. To those without a sleep disorder, it may seem like a simple fix: get more sleep, have fewer problems. However, insomnia has a unique effect on the mind, where it feels that there are wires set up to jolt your brain when you try to sleep. So we can’t be scared into sleeping, only scared into seeing how the data and facts collected are connecting to our experiences. As I watch my grandfather slip further and further away from us (due to Alzheimer’s), I wonder when that statistic will intertwine with my life.