22 October 2007
Science Daily/UC Berkeley
It has long been assumed that sleep deprivation can play havoc with our emotions. This is notably apparent in soldiers in combat zones, medical residents and even new parents. Now there's a neurological basis for this theory, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Medical School.
In the first neural investigation into what happens to the emotional brain without sleep, results from a brain imaging study suggest that while a good night's rest can regulate your mood and help you cope with the next day's emotional challenges, sleep deprivation does the opposite by excessively boosting the part of the brain most closely connected to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.
"It's almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses," said Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory and senior author of the study, which will be published today (Monday, Oct. 22) in the journal Current Biology.