It’s no secret that engineers are well known for their “night owl” capabilities. After all, they were “trained” to do so, ever since engineering school. Usually, when engineers are already in their respective fields, they tend to render a lot of overtime thinking that it’s alright since they’re already used to it. However a recent study out of UCLA found that when you are sleep deprived it makes it more difficult for your brain cells to communicate with each other, and this could lead to temporary mental lapses that can affect how your remember, interact with as well as perceive your environment.
12 epilepsy patients who were slated to undergo surgery to treat their conditions were monitored by researchers. To be able to solve the problem during surgery, the participants had electrodes implanted in their brains to identify where and how their symptoms and seizures began. The lack of sleep can usually often lead to seizures, so to make the process faster, the patients were instructed to stay awake all night.
The scientists also asked the patients categorize a series of images as fast as they could and found that their brain cells slowed down as they progressively got more tired.
“We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity,” co-author Dr. Yuval Nir said in a summary of the findings. “Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual.”
Being more tired made it more difficult of the neurons of the patients to translate the images that they were seeing into conscious thought. This means that when you are tired, the ability to register what you are seeing will slow down, along with your reaction time. Though parts of your brain are still operating as it used to be, there are some areas, particularly the temporal lobe that handles how you perceive things which slow to a potentially dangerous degree.
“Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much,” co-author Dr. Itzhak Fried said. “Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers.”
So engineers, this is just another reminder that you should get enough sleep.