Sleep is one of the basic health requirements of an individual. It is as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Just as the body and mind need good nourishment to grow, they also need to rest well for continuing to work healthily and a sound sleep can serve this purpose.
A lack of sleep causes adverse effects both to the physical and mental health of the individual. A study revealed that sleep deprivation may decline the working memory performance, particularly in young women. It also showed that the effects of sleep deprivation on working memory performance were different between men and women.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Uppsala University. The effects of lack of sleep on working memory on both men and women were evaluated.12 young men and 12 young women were employed for the study. The participants were subjected to the following two experimental conditions,
- They were asked to sleep from 10:30 in the evening to 6:30 in the morning.
- They were not allowed to sleep for the whole night.
After each condition, the participants were asked to take a digital working memory exam where they had to learn and remember eight-digit sequences. Their learning time was either accompanied by silence or distracted by an audio.
The results of the experiments were actually surprising for the researchers. Sleep loss didn’t affect the memory performance of young men. However, the female performances were reported to be highly effective by sleep deprivation. The young women recalled lesser digits after staying up all night, in comparison to after a night of sleep.
According to the researchers, this declined mental performance could lead the women to increased risks of blunders and mistakes which can harm their private and occupational situations. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Sleep Research. It indicated that young women who lack sleep are at higher risk of having difficulties in recalling or remembering things.
Frida Rångtell, a doctoral student at the Department of Neuroscience and the lead author of the study stated that a special attention is required for the young women who are facing challenges in which they have to cope with both a high working memory load and a lack of sleep.
Sleep indicates the overall health and well-being of a person. The amount of sleep necessary for an individual depends on his/her age, lifestyle, and health.
The National Sleep Foundation has designed some specific recommendations for healthy sleep duration. A 2014 study focused these recommendations and carried out experiments in order to assess the scientific literature regarding these sleep duration recommendations. In conducting the study, the group gathered a board of 18 multidisciplinary experts, representing 12 stakeholder organizations. RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method was used by the researchers in order to identify expert recommendations for adequate sleep durations across the lifespan.
The study concluded that the adequate sleep duration differs from individual to individual.
- For babies, 12 to 15 hours of sleep is recommended, which may help them with a healthy growth and development.
- For school-aged children, 9 to 11 hours of sleep is required every day.
- For teenagers, 8 to 10 hours of sleep was considered appropriate.
- For adults and older people, 7 to 9 hours of sleep was considered necessary.
The study was published in the Journal of National Sleep Foundation.