What happens to your reaction time with no sleep?

What is sleep deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is a common shortage of the essential amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation may be as a result of sleep disorders, drugs, hormones, voluntary, mental illness, and more. Sleep deprivation is a situation where somebody does not get the required amount of sleep and it can all sides of their lives.

What are some symptoms of a lack of sleep?

Sleep deprivation may result in aching muscles, blurred vision, clinical depression, constipation, dark circles under the eyes, daytime drowsiness and naps, excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased mental activity and concentration delirium, depersonalization, dizziness, fainting, hand tremors, headache, hyperactivity, hypertension, irritability, loss of appetite, memory lapses or loss, nausea, nystagmus, pallor, psychosis-like symptoms, severe yawning, sleep paralysis, slowed reaction time, slowed wound healing, slurred and/or nonsensical speech, synaesthesia, temper tantrums in children, weakened immune system, weight loss or weight gain (Read more about the lack of sleep and obesity)

So what is the purpose of sleeping?

Doctors and researchers still do not understand the correct purpose of sleeping. When you do not get enough sleep, your mental, emotional, and physical well being may be affected. When sleep deprivation occurs you feel drowsy, fatigued, grouchy, tired and suffer from confusion.  

Sleep deprivation become dangerous in some situations. Sleep deprivation amplifies alcohol's effects on the body, so a fatigued person who consumes alcohol will become even more damaged. Driver fatigue is accountable for many vehicle accidents. Avoid watching TV when you are trying to fall asleep. This motivates your brain and only makes it harder to flow off.  

So what do the studies say?

According to reports from the British Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, getting anything less than six hours of sleep per night can seriously affect your ability to react to situations. It poses a very serious risk to your health and to those around you because it becomes less likely to respond fast enough in situations (Williamson, 2000). 

A Stanford research project, headed by Nelson.B.Powell, DDS, MD, showed that those who were sleep deprived and then had their reaction times tested faired nearly as poorly as those considered legally drunk. This study was the first to show that there was a severe impairment of the individuals even at mild to moderate level of sleep disturbances (Powell, 1999). 

Sleep deprivation can adversely affect brain function. A 2000 study conducted by the UCSD School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in San Diego, used functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to monitor action in the brains of sleep-deprived subjects performing simple verbal learning tasks (Durmer and Dinges, 2005).  

A 2003 Universtity of California study found that REM sleep deprivation alleviates clinical depression. Although the mechanism is unclear it is suggested that the deprivation mimics the effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) however the study also indicated that REM sleep was essential for blocking neurotransmitters and allowing the neurotransmitter receptors to "rest" and regain sensitivity which in turn leads to improved regulation of mood and increased learning ability.  

A 2014 Study showed a similar crash occurance to drinking alcohol (23% suffered a driving crash at 0.025% alcohol) as it was to suffer from sleep deprivation (19% suffered a crash) (Hershner and Chervin, 2014).

Some animal studies suggest that sleep deprivation increases stress hormones, which may reduce new cell production in adult brains. According to a 2000 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers in Australia and New Zealand reported that sleep deprivation can have some of the same hazardous effects as being drunk. People who drove after being awake for 17–19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, which is the legal limit for drunk driving in most western European countries.