If you’re one of those people who feels like a zombie the day after a restless night’s sleep
, you can give science a giant “I told you so.” It turns out that not only do we function at a slower level the longer we’re awake, but we also struggle with similar tasks at night; even if we don’t know what time it is.The Science of Sleep – Not Just a Mattress Sales-Pitch
A team of researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have discovered that, regardless of how tired you might perceive yourself to be, lack of sleep can influence the way you perform certain tasks. Even if you feel awake and alert, your body has actually slowed down on you. And it’s even influenced by our own natural circadian rhythm
The scientists presented a study of two comparative visual search tasks, where participants had to find a mismatch between two otherwise identical objects. Both the length of time these individuals were awake and the circadian phase they were in had significant influences on the speed of the task, but not the accuracy involved. The subjects were still able to complete their work; it just took them longer.Application of the Sleep Study
Now, you might be thinking, “I’ve known that lack of sleep can cause problems since I was 12.” But until this study, there has been no large-scale look into the true effect a short sleep cycle has on our functioning levels, especially if a man or woman isn’t feeling
And the researchers involved hope that their study can aid employees that might not be visibly affected, but are suffering at work
“Our team decided to look at how sleep might affect complex visual search tasks, because they are common in safety-sensitive activities, such as air-traffic control, baggage screening, and monitoring power plant operations,” said Jeanne F. Duffy, PhD, MBA, and senior author on this study.
Those workers would be wise to pay attention to their own circadian rhythm and their sleep hours. Even if they don’t feel tired, it’s now known that their work will be negatively affected.Even Those that Power Through Are Affected
So if you brush off the lack of sleep or call yourself a warrior, it might just be for show. It’s now scientifically proven that, despite your demeanor, you’re not functioning on all levels.
Maybe that’s what makes the midnight Sudoku so tough.Cited Sources
"The Longer You're Awake, the Slower You Get." ScienceDaily
. ScienceDaily, 27 July 2012. Web. 09 Aug. 2012. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120727111317.htm>.
Marc, Pomplun. "The Effects of Circadian Phase, Time Awake, and Imposed Sleep Restriction on Performing Complex Visual Tasks: Evidence from Comparative Visual Search." Journal of Vision
. N.p., 26 July 2012. Web. 09 Aug. 2012. <http://www.journalofvision.org/content/12/7/14>.
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