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Some people don't sleep enough due to work, school, or personal issues. Regardless of the cause, what are the long-term impacts of losing sleep when describing mental performance in particular? I am interested in memory and measures of cognition, not psychological health.

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Most of the time it is critically important to realize that sleep deprivation is very often due to unrecognized sleep disorders. After a typical night's sleep, you may not feel restored and refreshed and be sleepy during the day, but be totally unaware that you are sleep-deprived or have a sleep disorder. You might tend to think, "It's just the stress of work or the kids," or you might have "always felt this way" and had no idea that you should feel differently. This lack of awareness compounds the consequences, because so many people remain undiagnosed for years.

Now speaking about the disorders or consequences that the sleep deprivation can cause are.

  • Decreased Performance and Alertness:

    Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.

  • Memory and Cognitive Impairment:

    Decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability -- your ability to think and process information.

  • Automobile Injury:

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities.

  • Increase Stroke risk:

    Even without the typical risk factors, like being overweight or having a family history, short sleep can up your risk for stroke, according to 2012 research. Adults who regularly slept fewer than six hours a night had four times the risk of stroke symptoms,

  • Fuel Memory Loss:

    You probably know that on the days when you are most tired, you're forgetful and unfocused -- but sleep deprivation can lead to permanent cognitive issues. The less we sleep, the less we benefit from the memory-storing properties of sleep. But additionally, a lack of sleep can cause "brain deterioration," according to a 2013 study, which may at least in part explain memory loss in seniors.

see also:

  1. Important sleep habits:webMd.com
  2. 8 Scary Side Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
  3. Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders
  4. Sleep Deprivation: Wikipedia

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