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Why do cognitive abilities progressively go down the more tired you are, sometimes to the point of having your mind go 'blank'?

Ethan Davis Ethan Davis May 28, 2022 · 2 mins read
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Have you ever felt your mind going blank after a long, tiring day? It’s not just in your head - studies have shown that cognitive abilities progressively decline the more fatigued you become. But why does this happen?

Firstly, let’s understand what cognitive abilities are. They refer to our mental processes such as attention, memory, language, perception, reasoning and problem-solving. These abilities require a significant amount of brain energy to function at their optimal level.

When we are tired, our brain’s ability to function efficiently is reduced. This happens because of the changes in our brain chemistry. A lack of sleep or rest increases the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, in our brain. This hormone has been linked to impairments in memory, attention and decision-making.

Additionally, sleep deprivation affects the production of neurotransmitters in our brain. These chemicals are responsible for regulating our mood, cognition and behavior. When we deprive ourselves of sleep, it affects our mood, making us easily irritated, anxious and more prone to making poor decisions.

Research has shown that cognitive abilities also decline when we are mentally exhausted. This happens because our cognitive resources are limited. Just like our muscles, our brain has a finite capacity for cognitive tasks. As we engage in tasks such as problem-solving or decision-making, our cognitive resources become depleted, leading to reduced cognitive ability.

Therefore, when we don’t get enough rest or engage in mentally demanding tasks for prolonged periods, our cognitive abilities progressively decline. We may experience mind blanks, forgetfulness, or difficulty concentrating.

It’s important to note that fatigue affects different people differently. Some people can perform well under pressure and with little sleep, while others need plenty of rest to function optimally. The key is to listen to your body and prioritize your rest and sleep.

In conclusion, cognitive abilities progressively decline the more fatigued you become. The reason behind this is the changes in our brain chemistry that occur when we are tired. The lack of sleep or rest increases the levels of stress hormones in our brain, which impair memory, attention and decision-making. Additionally, engaging in mentally demanding tasks depletes our cognitive resources, leading to decreased cognitive ability. To optimize your brain’s performance, make sure you prioritize rest and sleep.

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Ethan Davis
Written by Ethan Davis
Embrace the journey and discover your true potential.