Science underestimated dangerous effects of sleep deprivation

150

 

MICHIGAN

Michigan State University’s Sleep and Learning Lab has conducted one of the largest sleep studies to date, revealing that sleep deprivation affects us much more than prior theories have suggested.

Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, the research is not only one of the largest studies, but also the first to assess how sleep deprivation impacts place keeping  or, the ability to complete a series of steps without losing one’s place, despite potential interruptions. This study builds on prior research from MSU’s sleep scientists to quantify the effect lack of sleep has on a person’s ability to follow a procedure and maintain attention.

By sharing their findings on the separate effects sleep deprivation has on cognitive function, Fenn  and co-authors Michelle Stepan, MSU doctoral candidate and Erik Altmann, professor of psychology hope that people will acknowledge how significantly their abilities are hindered because of a lack of sleep.

The researchers recruited 138 people to participate in the overnight sleep assessment; 77 stayed awake all night and 61 went home to sleep. All participants took two separate cognitive tasks in the evening: one that measured reaction time to a stimulus; the other measured a participant’s ability to maintain their place in a series of steps without omitting or repeating a step even after sporadic interruptions. The participants then repeated both tasks in the morning to see how sleep-deprivation affected their performance.

After being interrupted there was a 15% error rate in the evening and we saw that the error rate spiked to about 30% for the sleep-deprived group the following morning. The rested participants’ morning scores were similar to the night before.

There are some tasks people can do on auto-pilot that may not be affected by a lack of sleep. However, sleep deprivation causes widespread deficits across all facets of life.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Newsletter
close-link