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Sleepless Euphoria

April 14, 2011

Sleep deprivation can lead to temporary euphoria. But there’s a downside.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Sleepless euphoria…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pulling an all-nighter may sap your energy later on, but it can also cause short-term euphoria. Now researchers think they know why. UC Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker and his team showed pictures of puppies, babies and other pleasant images to both well rested and sleep deprived volunteers while scanning their brains.

MATTHEW WALKER (University of California, Berkeley):

Those people in the sleep deprived group showed an excessive degree of brain reactivity to those positive emotional stimuli in certain reward related regions of the brain, regions we normally think control appetite, sex drive, addiction to substances, etc.

HIRSHON:

He says this over-activity can be associated with impaired decision making skills, so the findings could have important implications for occupations like medicine and aviation, where sleep deprivation is common.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.