"Sleep deprivation absolutely affects your ability to learn and to be alert, and make good decisions," said Dr. Jason Maxfield, Freeman Sleep Laboratory Medical Director.
KSN's Melanie Huonker completed a few tasks after a full night's sleep, and again after skipping a few hours of sleep, to test the effects. One of those tests was the Maintenance Awakefulness Test. Dr. Jason Maxfield says it monitors a person's brain waves.
"The Maintenance Awakefuleness Test is a laboratory test that determines if a patient can maintain wakefulness for 40 minutes at a time," said Dr. Maxfield.
A patient sits in a dark room and is asked to stay awake. Maxfield says the test is usually done in the interest of public or personal safety, as with truck drivers. It is completed with four 40-minute long testing periods
"You struggled a bit with maintaining wakefulness toward the end of it. So, if we had done test 2, 3 or 4, I think there's a good chance you would've fallen asleep," said Dr. Maxfield.
While that tested Hounker's wakefulness, the psycho motor vigilance test measured her alertness. The test gives you half a second to click on a number when it appears on the screen.
"It shows what is the very first thing to go when we are sleep deprived," said Dr. Maxfield.
It gauges our ability to maintain focus when there is an uninteresting task at hand.
"Even with just a single night of bad sleep, like you did before you came in, that test became abnormal," said Dr. Maxfield.
Huonker's next test was a driving simulator.
"A lot of crashes happen at night. A lot of times those are the ones that have to deal with sleep deprivation," said Dr. Maxfield.
After a full night's sleep, Huonker was able to navigate the cones with control, but not after missing a few hours of sleep.
"It takes you about a second a half by the time you perceive an obstacle, by the time you can act to it, then you have the actual mechanics of doing it," said Dr. Maxfield.
Sgt. Rusty Rives says the symptoms of sleep deprivation and driving under the influence are similar.
"Your motor skills have slowed down, your decision making has slowed down," said Sgt. Rusty Rives, Joplin Police Department .
Dr. Maxfield says when it becomes severe sleep deprivation, that is night after night, these affects can really add up.