We all know how important sleep is to us - it serves a variety of key functions and helps us to manage a number of key internal bodily functions.

Here we’ll explore what the impacts a of a lack of sleep are. 

In short, some of the key impacts can be outlined as negatively impacting our:

- Attention levels,

- Executive functioning (reasoning, problem-solving, attention control amongst other things),

- Working memory,

- Mood, and

- Motor skills.

This starts to explain why for example, tiredness is closely correlated with road traffic collisions as our motor response, in essence, our reaction times, are slower when we are tired.

Think about how this impact us if we are performing complex exercises; that slight drop in reaction time or in co-ordination may make us more likely to make a misstep and along with muscular exhaustion perhaps more likely that we sustain an injury.

So physically sleep debt or sleep deprivation can have an impact; but what about our minds.

Ok, quick honesty question time here – how do you feel when you’re sleep-deprived, when you’re really tired? Are you the fun bright, bubbly, engaging person you want to be?

If you are that’s great but many of us are a bit grumpy when we’re tired; a bit more emotionally reactive and prone to feeling more stressed.

That’s not really a surprise as sleep not only helps the brain rid itself of the toxins and waste products that build up during the course of the day but it also aids more consistent and appropriate reactions by our amygdala (our inbuilt threat survival system) to the stresses we encounter. It also promotes more effective modulation of our stress responses by our pre-frontal cortex.

Unsurprisingly then, not only is sleep disruption associated with changes to our mood states but research has shown us that it's closely related to an increase in anxiety levels.

As well as these motor function and emotional stress reaction impacts of sleep disruption, we experience many impacts on our general mental or cognitive functions such impairment of our memory, attention, problem-solving and forward planning abilities.

In short lack of sleep can make us clumsy, forgetful, grumpy and generally not fun to be around. Does this sound like who we want to be?

Probably not, so why not check out the full programme for lots more content about sleep as well as the exercises and techniques for helping us establish stable sleep cycles.


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