Working memory is the most important function of the human brain; it separates us from all other animals. It involves the ability to absorb information, retain it, and connect it to information you have already learned.
For example, as you drive down a street, you are using the right amount or pressure on the gas pedal and at the same time you are observing the cars in front of you and the landmarks you’re passing, all while trying to figure out where you are going.
When your working memory is functioning at a high level, you perform well at home and at school. When it is low, you feel scattered, forgetful, and sometimes anxious.
Sleep deprivation compromises your working memory by affecting your reaction time. When you see something new, you observe that information and use your memory before you take an action. For example, if you are driving on the highway and the car in front of you stops, poor sleep will compromise your reaction time and can lead to an accident. We know that most car accidents happen in the morning. We also know that many large-scale accidents, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, are related to sleep deprivation.
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