A recent study investigated the lingering effects of sleep deprivation in healthy adults. This study was conducted by Jeremy Ochab from Poland, alongside his colleagues.
Sleep deprivation or sleep deficiency is well known to influence human functioning during the day. It is generally associated with memory deficits, attention deficits, heart issues, decreased reaction time (leading to things such as car accidents), and more.
However, despite this understanding, we have still lacked an understanding regarding exactly how long recovery from sleep deficiency lasts. This study has helped to fill that gap.
In this study, healthy volunteers experienced 10 days of sleep deprivation and then 7 days of recovery (fully unrestricted sleep). The primary finding was that although after 7 days the participants recovered their reaction speed, they did not recover any of their other functional measures (EEG measures, accuracy in completing tasks, rest vs activity patterns, and more).
All participants continued their normal, everyday activities while taking part in the study. They were monitored using a wrist sensor which documented their sleep and activity levels. Additionally, all participants had a daily EEG to examine their brain activity and completed a daily questionnaire that documented their accuracy and reaction times.
The researchers explain how notable these findings are for developing our understanding of sleep. Although this was a smaller study and did not last a particularly long time, the results are telling. The team emphasizes that future research is needed, particularly which includes more patients and longer periods of recovery. We still need to understand exactly when these other functionality measures return to normal.
Most importantly, this study demonstrated that there are different effects of sleep deprivation among our behavior, neurophysiological functions, and motor functions.
You can read more about this study here.