Sleep Deprivation Increases Risks of Emotional Problems
November 2, 2007 -- It turns out that the sleep deprived may have more trouble controlling their emotions than those who get eight hours a night. A recent study concluded that people who have been deprived of sleep have greater reactions to negative visual stimuli than those who are well-rested.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Medical School, measured activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotional reactions. Subjects were shown pictures that ranged from neutral to negative. An MRI scanner showed that the group who had been deprived of sleep had higher levels of activity in the amygdala, particularly when viewing negative images.
The Institute of Medicine report Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem outlines emotional difficulties associated with insomnia. It recommends that the National Institutes of Health and private foundations increase investment in interdisciplinary somnology and sleep medicine research, training, and mentoring to address gaps in the capacity of health care providers to diagnose and treat individuals with sleep disorders.
Monitoring Metabolic Status: Predicting Decrements in Physiological and Cognitive Performance identifies insufficient sleep as the primary cause of cognitive degradation in military operational environments. It recommends research to validate the use of self- and peer-assessment tools in the field as indicators of fatigue and cognitive ability.