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drbandage
 
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Sleep Deprivation and your "Run Amok" Emotions

Postby drbandage on Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:36 am

Here's an interesting study to which many of us may relate, I'm sure.
drB

Emotions Run Amok in Sleep-Deprived Brains

Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.comMon Oct 22, 12:20 PM ET

Without sleep, the emotional centers of our brains dramatically overreact to bad experiences, research now reveals.

"When we're sleep deprived, it's really as if the brain is reverting to more primitive behavior, regressing in terms of the control humans normally have over their emotions," researcher Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, told LiveScience.

Anyone who has ever gone without a good night's sleep is aware that doing so can make a person emotionally irrational. While past studies have revealed that sleep loss can impair the immune system and brain processes such as learning and memory, there has been surprisingly little research into why sleep deprivation affects emotions, Walker said.

Walker and his colleagues had 26 healthy volunteers either get normal sleep or get sleep deprived, making them stay awake for roughly 35 hours. On the following day, the researchers scanned brain activity in volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they viewed 100 images. These started off as emotionally neutral, such as photos of spoons or baskets, but they became increasingly negative in tone over time—for instance, pictures of attacking sharks or vipers.

"While we predicted that the emotional centers of the brain would overreact after sleep deprivation, we didn't predict they'd overreact as much as they did," Walker said. "They became more than 60 percent more reactive to negative emotional stimuli. That's a whopping increase—the emotional parts of the brain just seem to run amok."

The researchers pinpointed this hyperactive response to a shutdown of the prefrontal lobe, a brain region that normally keeps emotions under control. This structure is relatively new in human evolution, "and so it may not yet have adapted ways to cope with certain biological extremes," Walker speculated. "Human beings are one of the few species that really deprive themselves of sleep. It's a real oddity in nature."

In modern life, people often deprive themselves of sleep "almost on a daily basis," Walker said. "Alarm bells should be ringing about that behavior—no pun intended."

Future research can focus on which components of sleep help restore emotional stability—"whether it's dreaming REM sleep or slow-wave, non-dreaming forms of sleep," Walker said.

Many psychiatric disorders, "particularly ones involving emotions, seem to be linked with abnormal sleep," he added. "Traditionally people mostly thought the psychiatric disorders were contributing to the sleep abnormalities, but of course it could be the other way around. If we can find out which parts of sleep are most key to emotional stability, we already have a good range of drugs that can push and pull at these kinds of sleep and maybe help treat certain kinds of psychiatric conditions."

The findings are detailed in the Oct. 23 issue of the journal Current Biology.
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kteague
 
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Emotions and sleep deprivation

Postby kteague on Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:30 am

Thanks for the article that supports what many of us have experienced.

Before getting treatment for OSA, I realized that I had to limit my exposure to my grandchildren when I was "out of sorts". I didn't want them to think of me as a mean grandma. I overreacted and just ranted and railed over insignificant things.

But at work I had a meltdown and through the sobbing in a confrontational meeting with another employee, I told my boss exactly what I thought of how he was handling a situation. On a good day, I wouldn't have been so affected and have generally subscribed to the motto "Never let them see you cry". I wish I could have videotaped it - two men stuck in a room with a blathering angry female - they were like deer in headlights. Priceless.

Kathy

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Postby ozij on Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:23 am

That's a priceless description, Kathy.

Any one remember how 2-3 year olds react when they haven't had
enough sleep?
O.

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Postby SleepGuy on Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:53 am

drb--Welcome Back!

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Postby Moby on Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:44 am

Great to see you back, dr bandage!

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Postby SleepGuy on Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:24 am

Great article - in the two years before I was diagnosed I felt like I was almost on the verge of a complete mental breakdown--now I know a little more why I felt like that.

SG

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Postby cflame1 on Tue Oct 23, 2007 4:37 pm

That is soo true! Even when I've had a really bad night I get to that point... usually that's about the time that I know that it's time to go home!

Welcome back drB!

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Postby RosemaryB on Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:40 pm

Thanks for the great article! One thing I've been thinking about lately is the extent to which a sleep disorder will shape a person over time. If the person eventually gets treatment, there are a number of personality characteristics that have been built over time. I think it will take time to rebuild them.

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Postby drbandage on Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:28 pm

RosemaryB wrote:Thanks for the great article! One thing I've been thinking about lately is the extent to which a sleep disorder will shape a person over time. If the person eventually gets treatment, there are a number of personality characteristics that have been built over time. I think it will take time to rebuild them.


That's a very interesting observation. I'm sure we all are, to a great degree, products of our environment. I've heard the expression "you are what you eat". Maybe we should include "you are as you sleep" . . .
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Postby drbandage on Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:21 pm

SleepGuy wrote:drb--Welcome Back!


Thank you, SG. It's been a tough year. My father died of Alzheimer's Disease this June, and that was rough. I had identity theft this summer and lost lots of time and money with that. I also had some very bad reactions trying to match up my Provigil and my Mirapex (the latter is for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder).
Still huffin' and puffin' on my hose, and this is a good place to hear about how to get it done right, right?
drB

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Postby drbandage on Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:24 pm

Moby wrote:Great to see you back, dr bandage!

Thank you, Moby. It is nice to be back in such good company. :)
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Postby Moby on Wed Oct 24, 2007 1:27 am

Sorry to hear about your bad year DrB. Hope things get better for you now, and glad to hear you're still huffin'n'puffin'!

:D

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