Most of us these days don’t get enough sleep. But sleep deprivation can cause people to have seizures and hallucinations. People believe that sleep deprivation lowers a person’s alertness, but Marcello Massimini from the University of Milan and his fellow colleagues have discovered that the brain actually becomes more reactive as hours awake accumulate.
Six people were gathered and did not sleep for a whole day. Massimini gave each person a jolt of magnetic current to the participants skull. The nerve cell received an electrical response and Massimini was able to measure the strength of the electrical response. He did this to the patients twice. Once right after they woke up from sleep and once after they hadn’t sleep for a whole day. The results were that the patients had a stronger electrical response after they hadn’t slept for a whole day than when they just woke up.
The theory is that the brain accumulates connection as the person learns new things. Sleep clears the brain of extra information and leaves only the most important information and connections. These enhanced excitability could be the explanation of why people have seizures after they haven’t slept in a whole day. Also doctors have induced seizures on patients by keeping them up all night. New studies are being tested if wether sleep deprivation can lead to reversing depression since the brain has a heightened excitement without sleep.