09/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Sleep Got Your Tongue?

Have you been drinking? Or are you just sleep deprived?

Check it out: Discovery News is reporting a new study that indicates a lack of sleep changes the brain to such a degree that without enough, you might sound drunk.

The study that supports this finding got downright technical and nit-picky, to say the least, over words. But the results were not surprising: sleep-deprived speakers gradually lost their ability to articulate, producing fewer detectable landmarks.

"Landmarks" are the crisp articulations of clear speech, such as that the puff of air we release when producing "t" or "k" sounds (didn't I say it got technical?). The computers used in the study could actually detect these subtleties. Oddly enough, however, when such sleep-deprived people hear themselves, they think they sound fine. Like a drunk who thinks they haven't had enough yet and can walk and talk like normal.

Research like this isn't just for kicks. It can be used to train 911 employees, communication professionals, and therapists who work with the hearing impaired.

It's also a reminder, though, for all of us who've ever tried to get through the day "drunk on sleeplessness." You might want to avoid important conversations, like job interviews, speeches, and deal-making. And don't get pulled over by the cops.

This article is cross-posted at Dr. Breus's official blog, The Insomnia Blog.