How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Behavior?

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Individuals who suffer from a lack of sleep may be more irritable, short-tempered and vulnerable to stress. Anger, stress, sadness and mental exhaustion can accompany even small amounts of sleep deprivation.

Just as small amounts of sleep deprivation can have an impact on mood, conditions like chronic insomnia can increase an individual's risk of developing a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Lack of sleep is a major risk factor for depression, anxiety disorders and even panic disorders. These mood disorders can, in turn, make it more difficult to sleep. Individuals suffering from chronic stress or anxiety have a lot of trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Todd Maddox of the Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Texas in Austin suggested a process called neurorehabilitation to address the issue of sleep deprivation in high-pressure jobs. Maddox hopes to be able to teach people to have parts of the brain, unaffected by sleep deprivation, perform tasks that are usually done by the parts of the brain that are affected by sleep deprivation. Maddox's research found that the frontal cortex is severely impaired by lack of sleep as opposed to the striatum which can function well despite a lack of sleep.