Sleep deprivation and your brain

Side scan of the brain showing effect of sleep deprivation | scooms

I’ve been reading some thought-provoking new research by scientists at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) which shows for the first time how sleep deprivation stops brain cells communicating properly.  Exhausted neurons respond more slowly than usual and parts of the brain actually turn themselves off to rest even though the person is still awake.

Worryingly, this new study shows that sleep deprivation can affect people in a similar way to alcohol, decreasing the speed at which brain cells communicate and preventing memories being encoded properly. As well as causing temporary lapses in memory and vision.

Dr Itzhak Fried, professor of neurosurgery at UCLA said the effect could prevent a tired person noticing a pedestrian stepping in front of a car.

“Starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly. This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us. The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver's over-tired brain. It takes longer for his brain to register what he's perceiving.”

“Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much. Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying over-tired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers."

For the research, scientists studied 12 sleep-deprived epileptic patients who had electrodes implanted in their brains.  They were asked to identify a variety of images as fast as possible while the implants recorded their brain activity. Performing the tasks grew more challenging as the patients grew sleepier and the lack of sleep caused the neurons to respond sluggishly.

The researchers discovered that in the areas where the cells were firing more slowly, brain waves also slowed down, implying the area was trying to sleep.

“This phenomenon suggests that select regions of the patients' brains were dozing, causing mental lapses, while the rest of the brain was awake and running as usual," added Prof Fried.

So, particularly now that the nights are getting darker, it's vitally important to make sure we all get enough sleep before we get behind the wheel ...

 

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications

 

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Author: Emily AttwoodPublished: 7 November 2017Last modified: 5 February 2024





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Bedding size guide

DUVET SIZE GUIDE

These are standard UK bedding measurements so if you know your mattress size, you can easily work out which duvet size you need. (Width x length.)

UK sizes Duvet size Mattress size
Single 135 x 200cm (53 x 79") 90 x 190cm (36 x 75")
Double 200 x 200cm (79 x 79") 135 x 190cm (53 x 75")
King 225 x 220cm (89 x 87") 150 x 200cm (60 x 78")
Super king 260 x 220cm (102 x 87") 180 x 200cm (72 x 78")

US/CANADA BEDDING SIZES: Approximate matches to UK sizes are US King/UK Super king, US Queen/UK King,  US Full/UK Double and US Twin/UK Single.

EUROPEAN BEDDING SIZES: Each size - Single, Double, King and Grand king - is a little larger than the UK equivalent.

Measure your mattress to see which size bedding you need: our UK v European v US mattress comparison guide.

 

DUVET TOG RATING GUIDE

Young children can overheat so if they are old enough to use a full size bed, we recommend using a single size 4.5 tog duvet.

 Tog rating Season / heat Feel
2.5 tog High summer / hot sleepers Light thermal insulation
4.5 tog Summer Lower thermal insulation
9 tog Spring & Autumn Cosy medium heat
All season 13.5 tog 4.5 tog + 9 tog Very warm
All season 11.5 tog 2.5 tog + 9 tog Warm
All season 7 tog 2.5 tog + 4.5 tog Lower warmth

 

DUVET FILL WEIGHT GUIDE

Our goose down duvets have high 700 fill power. Fill weight is measured in GSM (grams per square metre). For example view our 9 tog king size goose down duvet for more duvet details.

Fill weight (not total duvet weight)
Single All seasons - 788gsm
9 tog - 486gsm 
4.5 tog - 302gsm 
2.5 tog - 220gsm
Double All seasons - 1168gsm
9 tog - 720gsm
4.5 tog - 448gsm
2.5 tog - 320gsm
King All seasons - 1478gsm
9 tog - 911gsm
4.5 tog - 567gsm
2.5 tog - 400gsm
Super king All seasons - 1671gsm
9 tog - 1030gsm
4.5 tog - 641gsm
2.5 tog - 480gsm

 

PILLOW SIZE GUIDE

Our pillows come in two sizes and two firmness options. (Width x length.)

Standard  50 x 75cm
King 50 x 90cm

 

BED LINEN SIZE GUIDE

Our fitted sheets are deep fit, up to 40cm / 15.7" mattress depth. And our duvet covers fasten with large, easy to use buttons. (Width x length.)

Duvet cover Fitted sheet Flat sheet Pillowcase (pair)
Single 140 x 200cm 90 x 190cm 180 x 275cm
Double 200 x 200cm 135 x 190cm 230 x 275cm 50 x 75cm (Standard)
King 230 x 220cm 150 x 200cm 275 x 275cm 50 x 90cm (King)
Super king 260 x 220cm 180 x 200cm 305 x 275cm

 

MATTRESS PROTECTOR SIZE GUIDE

Our mattress protectors are deep fit, up to 40cm mattress depth. Choose the same size protector as your mattress size. (Width x length.)

Mattress protector size Mattress size
Single 90 x 190cm 90 x 190cm
Double 135 x 190cm 135 x 190cm
King 150 x 200cm 150 x 200cm
Super king 180 x 200cm 180 x 200cm 

 

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