Skip navigation
D. Why Sleep Should Not Be Taken Lightly

Narrator: This is Science Today. A recent University of California, San Diego study suggests the brain may have an adaptive resource to make up for sleep deprivation. But Dr. Cris Gillin, a professor of psychiatry who led the study, says that's not to say people should take sleeping lightly. In fact, there are many adverse effects.

Gillin: Performance drops when people are sleep deprived. They're at increased risk of automobile accidents and it certainly has been implicated in some very serious disasters in recent years.

Narrator: Still, Gillin and his colleagues found that the sleepier a person was, the greater the activation in the brain's prefrontal cortex, which controls areas of judgement and working memory.

Gillin: This was unexpected to us, but it does suggest that the brain does have compensatory mechanisms and it's not just a simple sleep deprivation effect. It's probably really related to the task that the subject is performing and to a number of other variables, such as how well they're performing or how sleeping they are. So, I think understanding what the effect of sleep deprivation on the brain is going to be a complicated, difficult task with probably no simple solution.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.