The Effects of Sleep Loss
Many people have or have had trouble falling asleep when it’s time. This is often due to factors such as stress or simply not “feeling” tired. Ever wonder how your quality of sleep affects your performance the next day? Personally, starting a day off without having gotten a good night’s rest has a direct negative relationship with my mood/energy level for majority of the morning. Others will only experience some fatigue upon initially waking up, an impact of lesser severity when compared.
In this article, Whiteman writes about how staying up all night affects a person’s “working memory”. As defined by the article, working memory is described as our ability to briefly hold information, while simultaneously making a decision. A common example of working memory from the article for anyone with a cell phone is adding a contact to your phone. As you are actively remembering the number, you are also typing the number and/or name into your phone. After being able to recall several times where I as well as others did not get a good night’s rest and felt we suffered for it the next day.
Yet, a study done by Frida Rångtell, a student at the University of Uppsala in Sweden made an interesting discovered that for men there simply is no impact. “Women who lost a night’s sleep, however, showed a reduction in working memory in the tests, though they did not appear to notice this reduction” (Whiteman, Medical News Today). There are two aspects to this distinction between reactions, one of them being the reduction in working memory itself as well as the impact going unnoticed by the female participants in the study. Of the participants included in the study, 6 out of the 12 participants were said to be female (Whiteman, Medical News Today). Understandably so, this result did come as a concern to Rångtell, as “ “working memory is central in cognitive functioning and key to perform[ing] efficiently and effectively in academic, professional, and social settings,” they [Rångtell and colleagues] write in their paper. Thus, we often multitask (a byproduct of working memory) in our daily lives and this function is essential to being able to complete multiple tasks during our day. Rångtell cautions women to be extra careful when running off low sleep and performing their daily activities.
A limitation cited in the article notes that the researchers are not sure whether or not the effect of working memory lasts soley during the morning hours or throughout the entire duration of the day, since they only tested the 6 women during the morning hours. In addition to this limitation, she also writes that sleep deprivation may affect others areas that vary by sex, but since the focus of this study was sleep deprivation on cognitive functioning they are again unsure.
In my experience, not getting enough sleep definitely affects my energy, willingness/desire to complete both simple and complex tasks, as well as performance. Prior to the knowledge gained from this article I had no idea of the correlation between my experience and my gender. Though, without the knowledge of the strength of the correlation I will remain unsure if this is a prime example of why I can recall most girls in my elementary class being very calm and quiet in the morning as compared to the boys high energy levels and inability to contain themselves. Regardless, the articles results were both interesting and informative.