Sleep deprivation, it’s not uncommon. We’ve all been there – had a night when sleep just would not happen. No matter what you tried, it just was a major struggle. Thankfully, for most people, it doesn’t happen often. But even some amount of sleep deprivation can have a noticeable impact on our lives. This is especially important to keep in mind if you willingly deprive yourself of sleep.
Suffice to say, sleep deprivation is not good for us. Not only is sleep deprivation linked a whole host of health problems (including Alzheimer’s disease), it can also mess with our behaviour.
A recent study about the behavioural impact of sleep deprivation (published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology) was conducted to examine how much participants could follow complex procedures while they were sleep deprived.
The 234 college-aged participants followed a protocol called UNRAVEL.
UNRAVEL is an acronym that encompasses the tasks that participants needed to do, namely:
U = underlined or italicized
N = near to or far from the start of the alphabet
R = red or yellow
A = above or below the box
V = vowel or consonant
E = even or odd
L = less than or more than 5
To start with, the research participants were shown a random letter on a screen and they had to indicate whether the letter was underlined or italicized. Then came near or far from the start of the alphabet, and so on. The participants had to follow the UNRAVEL sequence. There were also random 20-second typed transaction exercises, which made the task more difficult.
The participants went through the UNRAVEL procedure twice: once at night, and then the second time the next morning. In between the testing, half of the participants were allowed to sleep, and the other half were awake overnight in the lab.
Impact on performance
As predicted, the group that was sleep-deprived performed poorly. Also, performing the transcription task made the participants lose their place in the procedure.
The researchers also noticed that the sleep-deprived group made more errors as the morning tests progressed. As a result, 15% failed the morning tests entirely.
According to lead researcher, Kimberly Fenn, the results of the study have serious implications for real-life workplaces. This study also made it clear how important work-sleep balance is. Not only getting enough sleep makes people happier, but it can also make the people around them safer.
Turns out sleep is not just important for health, it is also really important if you want to perform well. So if you want to do well at work (or studies), or at the very least, don’t want your work to suffer – you need to make sure that you get enough sleep!
What are your thoughts on sleep deprivation? Have you had any experience with sleep deprivation affecting your performance?
Share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments section below.
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