What Happens To Your Brain When You Don't Sleep?

The effects of sleep deprivation are more serious than just feeling cranky. We've all experienced the grumps and grizzles of a tired child or the feeling of having a short fuse when you haven't gotten those solid 8 hours. But being a parent to a child who has behavioural sleep problems means you're most likely experiencing some physical and mental side effects caused by disrupted sleep. Children are also prone to sleep deprivation symptoms, however as a parent, they can be much more serious. So serious in fact, that Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience at California, Berkeley, has concluded that prolonged wakefulness can lead to low level brain damage.

What are the symptoms?


As a parent, each day is brought with new memories to be made with your little one. However, when your brain functions on little sleep, the ability to store new memories becomes impossible. Your memory "inbox" essentially becomes full and new experiences cannot be converted into memories.


At night during deep sleep, your body uses that time to get rid of a toxic protein called beta-amyloid. When this protein isn't expelled, it can clump together to form plaques in the brain. Beta-amyloid is associated with Alzheimer's disease, and is a crucial component in the development of the disease.

Immune System

After just one night of 4 - 5 hours sleep, there is a 70% reduction of 'natural killer cells' in the body. These cells, also known as NK cells, are a type of white blood cell that is integral in the host-rejection of virally infected cells and tumours. NK cells are crucial in destroying viruses, without them it can lead to a weak immune system and susceptibility to a range of infections.

Blood Pressure

When you go to sleep, your heart rate slows and your blood pressure drops. REM sleep acts as a sort of reboot to your cardiovascular system, and without that opportunity, your blood pressure continues to rise instead. Recent studies have shown that getting only 6 hours of sleep per night can lead to a 200% increased risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack in your lifetime.

Taking Sleep Seriously

Achieving a substantial amount of sleep each night is crucial for both parent and child--physically, mentally and emotionally. The impact of sleep deprivation can be extremely serious, however if you take action now and implement a routine with your Glow Dreaming, you can prevent these symptoms developing.

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