I'm not dumb, just sleep deprived

Here’s an interesting new study on cognitive effects of the amount of sleep one gets.

Popular account

Actual Study

The interesting things from the study:
[li]They found an optimum range of sleep time (7-8 hours) and that both less sleep and more sleep affects cognition[/li]
[li]Short term memory did not track with the amount of sleep.[/li]
[li]The optimum amount of sleep didn’t see to be age dependent.[/li]
[li]The effect on cognition doesn’t seem to be long term. Sleeping longer the night before (compared to the average sleep time over the prior month) raised cognition scores.[/li][/ul]
Personally, I know I don’t get enough sleep. My nominal bed-time to wake-time is 7 hours, but factoring in falling asleep, waking up early, and waking during the night, I figure I’m getting less than 6 hours. I definitely feel it during the week. I have longer periods of low energy, but never really thought about whether my cognitive abilities might be diminished. I can also anecdotally confirm that, in my case, if I sleep more than about 9 hours, I feel “off” for most of the day.

I think there is something to this study, but then again, my reasoning’s probably a little impaired. :smiley:

I don’t know what I can do about it. I’ve fashioned my sleep regimen primarily around the teachings of Dr. Warren Zevon:

I needed 10 hours every night until I was around 30. I knew that was long, and I could have used the extra 2 hours a day when I was young, but damn – I couldn’t study on 8 hours a day.

I can testify that getting less sleep over a week or so makes me noticeably dumber.

I think this is relative to the individual. Every persons needs are built in to them. I come from a long line of insominiacs. Intelligence is variable. Some of us are smart, some are stupid as doorknobs. I know too much sleep in my case makes me cloudy. I am optimal at about 4 hours every 24. Any less and i am useless. If i go past 48 hours with no sleep i start to become incoherant and paranoid. Sleeplessness has been a constant battle in my adult life.

Excellent post/name combo!

It makes an enormous difference in my ability to handle problems and just function normally.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that I am no longer terribly anxious, my workload seemed reasonable rather than impossible, and even when bad things happen, I’m able to face and deal with them. I was trying to figure out what had caused this remarkable improvement, and then I remembered that starting on my birthday in August, I had made a commitment to get enough sleep every day, no exceptions. It is the single most effective thing that I can do to feel better.

OTOH, there have been times when my life seemed to be completely falling apart, and every problem was an insurmountable crisis, and that’s usually when I realize that I haven’t been getting enough sleep.

You might be the perfect person to test the conclusions of this paper. I did some poking around and it looks like the tests are part of free brain science website used by many researchers. Its set up with tests and you can track yourself. You could try the test under different conditions- normal- 4 hours, short- much less than 4 hours, and long- a full night.

With wide swings in amount of sleep (the sleep delta in the study was only about an hour and the score differences were maybe 10%), you should see measurable changes in your scores.

Here’s the website (I found it on my own, but I went back to the paper, and this is the site the researchers used).