Each of you probably has noticed how hard it is to work on a drowsy head. You force your body with all your might, yet it resists and demands some sleep. At some moments it may even seem that although the body is doing the job, the brain stays loyal to its own wishes and falls asleep every now and then. This type of behaviour has scientific support, affirming that the brain of a sleep deprived person, even if the person missed one night of sleep, periodically shuts down on its own.
Researchers form Pennsylvania University compared the brain activity of 24 adults. Each person had two sets of data collected – after having the sleep out and after staying up all night. During the study the volunteers solved simple problems and the scientists used MRI scans to record the blood flow in their brain. According to the data, people who lacked sleep had instances of blood flow pauses in some brain regions. MRI records of the well-rested participants recorded no such instances of inactivity. Sleep deprived people experience alternations between normal brain activity and black-outs of attention and information processing. Scientists put the following explanation behind this: a sleepy brain spontaneously switches from sleep to wakeful state, besides the switch process is very fast.