News: Short naps don’t mitigate the potentially dangerous cognitive effects of sleep deprivation, according to the latest study from Michigan State University’s Sleep and Learning Lab.
Kimberly Fenn, associate professor of MSU and study author is researching cognitive deficits associated with sleep deprivation and if a short nap during a day can restore a sleepless night.
Fenn’s research team hired 275 college-aged participants for the study and asked them to complete cognitive tasks before coming to the lab in the evening. The participants were divided into three groups: first was sent home to sleep; the second stayed at the lab overnight and had the opportunity to take either a 30 or a 60-minute nap, and the third did not nap at all in the deprivation condition.
The next morning all the participants repeated the same cognitive tasks and the research team monitored their attention, place keeping, ability to complete a series of steps in a specific order without skipping or repeating them — even after being interrupted.
“The group that stayed overnight and took short naps still experienced the effects of sleep deprivation and made significantly more errors on the tasks than their counterparts who went home and obtained a full night of sleep,” Fenn said.
“We found that short naps of 30 or 60 minutes did not show any measurable effects. While short naps didn’t show measurable effects on relieving the effects of sleep deprivation, we found that the amount of slow-wave sleep that participants obtained during the nap was related to reduced impairments associated with sleep deprivation.”
Slow-wave sleep is the deepest and most restorative sleep stage when your body is most relaxed and the heart rate and respiration are at their slowest. Study participants who had more slow-wave sleep showed fewer errors on both tasks but performed worst when compared to participants who slept.
To Know More You May Refer To:
Stepan, M. E., Altmann, E. M., & Fenn, K. M. (2021). Slow-wave sleep during a brief nap is related to reduced cognitive deficits during sleep deprivation. Sleep. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab152