Short Naps Can’t Fix Sleep-Deprived Performance, Study Shows
written by/ August 31, 2021
We’ve all been there: The drowsiness and loss of coordination and focus that come after a sleepless night are notoriously difficult to fight off. But a new study has found that the one thing most of us cling to in attempts to restore our energy levels – a quick nap – won’t necessarily aid a person’s performance at work.
Scientists came to this conclusion through a recent study led by the Sleep and Learning Lab at Michigan State University.
The research team measured the cognitive effectiveness of participants in various stages of sleep deprivation. Three groups were formed. One group was completely sleep-deprived. In the second, people were allowed short naps, and the third group was a control group where participants were left to sleep at will.
The 275 participants were given cognitive performance tests that required them to do tasks in a specific order, thus measuring their capacity to cope with sleep deprivation.
The study showed that the group that took naps that lasted between 30 and 60 minutes didn’t do much better on the tests than participants in the sleep-deprived group.
However, there is one thing that seemed to help nappers get better results – slow-wave sleep. Scientists found a positive correlation between the time spent in slow-wave sleep (the third of the five sleep cycle stages) and the restoration of cognitive abilities. Namely, for every 10 minutes spent in deep sleep, participants made 4% fewer errors on the tests.
That said, longer-lasting naps (over an hour) provenly have multiple health benefits and are known to improve memory and learning. Think about this and take your most comfortable travel pillow and nap wherever and whenever you can.