How sleep deprivation affects your performance

Sleep deprivation affects us much more than prior theories have suggested, say researchers, adding that it impacts place-keeping – or, the ability to complete a series of steps without losing one's place, despite potential interruptions.

For the study, the researchers recruited 138 people to participate in the overnight sleep assessment; 77 stayed awake all night and 61 went home to sleep.

All participants took two separate cognitive tasks in the evening: one that measured reaction time to a stimulus; the other measured a participant's ability to maintain their place in a series of steps without omitting or repeating a step – even after sporadic interruptions.

The participants then repeated both tasks in the morning to see how sleep-deprivation affected their performance. After being interrupted there was a 15 per cent error rate in the evening and we saw that the error rate spiked to about 30 per cent for the sleep-deprived group the following morning. The rested participants' morning scores were similar to the night before.

However, sleep deprivation causes widespread deficits across all facets of life.

"Some sleep-deprived people might be able to hold it together under routine tasks."

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