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Unfortunately, although people are aware they need to get 8 hours of sleep per night in order to wake up refreshed in the morning, due to hectic work schedules and modern way of life, most people manage to get only six hours of sleep. You might think that sleeping 6 hours each night and getting daily double espresso shots can help you power through the work week; however, that is far from true. A recent sleep deprivation study revealed that running on only 6 hours of sleep is the same as not sleeping at all.
In the sleep deprivation study published in the Sleep Journal in 2004, 48 adult participants were divided into four groups. The first group was allowed to sleep for hours a night for two weeks. The second group was allowed to sleep six hours a night. The third group was allowed to have eight hours of sleep per night, and the fourth group was sleep deprived for three consecutive nights. The test subjects were also not allowed to take naps. Their cognitive performance, including their reaction time, mood and symptoms were monitored every two hours.
Not surprisingly, the group who slept eight hours each night had the best results. Test subjects who slept six hours a night did okay, but, as the end of the study was approaching (around day 10), their performance ratings got worse. The group who was allowed to sleep only four hours a night was getting worse each day.
The study found that the participants who slept only four or six hours a night had a severe decrease in cognitive performance. They were actually functioning the same as if they had been sleep deprived for two days. The only difference between the mentioned two groups was that the performance of the four-hour group declined much faster. Interesting information is that the participants that showed decreased cognitive performance after ten days of sleeping six hours per night were unaware of the changes based on their “sleepiness ratings”. This means that you hit the sack regularly for only six hours per night, you are not living your best life, and even worse, you may not even be aware of it. It’s time to back away from the Netflix, stop scrolling Instagram, and go to bed earlier.
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Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic