Relationship between sleep deprivation and drug addiction

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Dr. Yanhua Huang from the University of Pittsburgh led a talk on the relationship between sleep and drug addiction n Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. Sleep deprivation significantly affects one’s mental and emotional state of mind.

Yanhua theorized that sleep deprivation induces suppression of glutamate release which impacts the reward circuitry in the brain. Otherwise stated, less sleep could lead to higher reward-seeking behaviors such as alcohol intake and illegal drugs like cocaine. Furthermore, Yanhua presented a surprising fact: from her recent data collection, she discovered that the prevalence of sleep deprivation in adults was approximately greater than 35 percent whereas that of high schoolers was greater than 68 percent.

In addition, Yanhua discussed the continuous relationship between sleep, physical indicators that inhibits or encourages sleep and the psychological indicators of sleep deprivation or sleep itself. In short, Dr. Yanhua established a relationship between the changes in the activity of the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that accesses the emotional and motivational responses during reward processing, and drug addiction.