The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation on Cognitive Performance

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In today’s society, a good night’s sleep is rare. Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, however with the fast paced society of balancing home and work duties, many people meet their obligations by obtaining less sleep each night. Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain in order for it to function optimally (Harrison & Horne, 2000). Organs such as muscles have the ability to regenerate while the individual is in a resting state. The brain on the other hand, requires certain stages of sleep for the regeneration of neurons and synaptic connections necessary for cognitive functions where cells are replaced or repaired during sleep (Harrison & Horne, 2000). Sleep has also been suggested to conserve energy, detoxify the brain and control the thermoregulation of the brain (Maquet, 2001). Sleep is thus essential to the body which is why scientists and doctors recommend approximately eight hours of sleep every night to encourage a healthy brain (Maquet, 2001). It is well known that because of the modern hectic lifestyle, most people do not receive adequate sleep and ultimately, sleep deprivation affects a significant number of people. This ranges from shift workers such as doctors and nurses, military personnel, transportation workers and students where exercises are performed or deadlines are stressed. Sleep deprivation contributes to serious consequences in cognitive functions such as attention, decision-making, mood and memory impairments (Durmer & Dinges, 2005). Therefore, sleep deprivation reduces productivity at work and also to our physical and mental well-being as well as our safety. Sleep deprivation is a lack of sleep that is needed to function normally, although it is not easy to define as it can take on many different forms depending on quality and quantity of sleep as well as the number of nights of

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