A study at the University of Utah, USA, observed that getting less than seven hours of sleep obviously impairs our judgement and reasoning. Head of the study, Professor Paul Williams noted that most people feel terrible when they get less than six hours of sleep. “What’s different about these short sleepers who feel fine? Is there something different going on in terms of brain function?,” she quipped.
Researchers compared people who had normal sleeping hours and those who sleep six hours or less using a MRI scanner. The short sleeper were divided into groups – those who feel drowsy to perform common tasks and those who feel fine. It was observed that the two groups of those who sleep less briefly drifted off – even those who claim they don’t get tired on little sleep.
A radiologist at the university, Dr. Jeff Anderson, said that most of us don’t realize when we’ve drifted off for a minute or two. For those who sleep six hours or less, their wake-up brain systems are always in over-drive. However, when they’re doing something boring that doesn’t require attention, the tiredness kicks in.
They found out that those who sleep less showed enhanced connectivity between sensory cortices, which process external sensory information. Professor Williams noted that the result is exciting because it suggests that maybe one of the things short sleepers are doing in the scanner is performing memory consolidation more efficiently than non-short sleepers.”
The next phase of research for the team is to test directly whether those who sleep less hours and claim to function well are actually doing fine.
“We are particularly interested in understanding discrepancy between people’s perception of their functioning and how they’re actually functioning. Not everyone is equally accurate, ” she concluded