One symptom of sleep deprivation could have far-reaching ramifications, even after you've rested and erased your sleep debt. The brain's prefrontal cortex is involved in judgment and impulse control, and when it's feeling the strain of sleep deprivation, your decision-making abilities feel the strain as well.
Researchers believe that REM sleep, though still far from being fully understood, helps our brains process information gained throughout the day. This important sleep stage also helps regenerate neurons in the brain.
If you miss a night's sleep, your brain hasn't had the opportunity to refresh and reorganize itself, so your ability to make good decisions suffers.
Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people are more likely to make risky decisions [source: Venkatraman]. Without sleep, you'll act aggressively in hopes of achieving short-term gains. You're more likely to bet the farm in the casino, purchase something that's outside the budget or forgo safe-sex practices. When you're well-rested, you're better able to assess when something looks risky
Of course, you won't be able to do any of those things if you can't tie your own shoes and get out the front door, as we'll learn in the next section.