Lack of Sleep Affects Performance and Damages Brain Cells

Posted on May 29, 2014

Everyone knows that bad night sleep can easily affect the whole day ahead. Even a relatively small (2-3 hours) loss of sleep leads to the fall in mood and mental performance. Regular or frequent sleep disturbances can even have much more far-reaching consequences. It is already well established that chronic lack of sleep is associated with higher risk of serious illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even cancer.

In one study, scientists recruited several basketball players and extended the duration of their nocturnal sleep by approximately two hours over a period of 5-7 weeks. Instead of their habitual 6 to 9 hours, the athletes were sleeping for at least 10 hours every night. Researchers compared the athletic performance, as well as indicators of reaction time, mood and sleepiness before and after this intervention. It turned out that after several weeks of regular extended sleep all sportsmen demonstrated faster sprinting time, better shooting accuracy, decreased reaction time, better mood scores and significant improvements in vigor and fatigue. Performance parameters are, essentially, the indicators of neuromotor functions. Their improvements reflect higher level of brain activation.

Sleeping for 10 hours a day is a luxury most of us cannot afford. The results of another study which investigated the effects of short lunchtime naps after disturbed nocturnal sleep are therefore of greater interest for most people. In this experiment, the duration of night sleep of several young athletes was restricted by 4 hours. The next day, some of the athletes were allowed to have a short 30 minute nap in the afternoon, while the others stayed awake. Participants who had a nap demonstrated increased alertness, lower heart rate, better reaction time, better short memory and better sprinting time compared to those who did not sleep in the afternoon. The findings clearly demonstrate that if you had a difficult night, having a short afternoon nap may help you to go through your daily work more efficiently.

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Category(s):Sleep Disorders

Source material from Brain Blogger

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