What the World’s Largest Sleep Study Reveals

Posted On: 10-05-2018
What the World’s Largest Sleep Study Reveals
If you want to know the perfect amount of sleep—no more and no less—a recent study being touted as the “world’s largest sleep study” may help.

The study, published in the journal SLEEP, involved more than 40,000 participants around the world. Each individual tracked their sleep over a three-day period in 2017 before undergoing a range of tests that evaluated cognitive abilities and brain function. The participants also provided information about their daily lives, such as the medications they used.

The study was conducted by neuroscientists from the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University in Canada. Adrian Owen, the study’s co-author and a professor at the institute who specializes in cognitive neuroscience and imaging, indicated that a sleep study in the “real world,” rather than in a laboratory, was needed to fully understand sleeping habits of people around the world.

The researchers discovered that the brain performs best when you get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. In fact, those who slept longer than this range were just as impaired as those who slept less.

The most significant impairment was in those who slept less than four hours. These adults performed as if they were about nine years older on the tests for attention, reasoning, short-term memory, planning, and more.

Additionally, the researchers found that regardless of age, the amount of sleep that’s needed is the same.

This test shows that lack of sleep doesn’t just affect how groggy you feel or how slowly you move throughout your day in a physical sense. Rather, everyday decisions and actions become more difficult.

The researchers hope to use more of the data from the study to learn more about how sleep affects different people.

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