The results of an observational study conducted by Polish scientists showed that after ten days of regular lack of sleep, the body needs more than a week of rest to recover. The article was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
It is known that the lack of sleep, characteristic of residents of modern megacities, negatively affects the physiological functions of the human body. As a result, there is a decrease in cognitive skills, attention, and memory, the appearance of cardiovascular and nervous systems problems, and an increase in the risks of dangerous life situations, such as car accidents and industrial injuries. However, until now, scientists do not know exactly how much time a person needs to fully recover after a long period of regular lack of sleep.
Researchers from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, led by Jeremy Ochab, decided to fill this gap. They conducted an experiment in which several volunteers, healthy adults, deliberately limited their sleep time for ten days and then slept without restrictions for seven days.
All this time, the participants were in their usual daily environment and wore sensors on their wrists to track their daily sleep and activity. They also underwent electroencephalography every day to monitor brain activity and tests for reaction time and accuracy.
It turned out that after a week of unlimited sleep, only the reaction speed was restored, and all other parameters were still far from normal. Moreover, the speed of recovery of functions for all participants was different.
“A study of the recovery process after a long period of sleep restriction shows that differences influence recovery in behavioral, motor and neurophysiological reactions,” the authors write.
The authors note that they did not compare their results with the data of other studies that used other methods. Still, they believe that they came to an essential conclusion — people often do not have time to recover from chronic lack of sleep for short periods allotted for weekends and vacations.
“Modern society considers sleep restriction as the norm, but the results show that the consequences of regular lack of sleep may not be easy to overcome,” the scientists emphasize.
In the future, the authors plan to continue their research, expanding the circle of participants, studying longer recovery periods, and determining the order in which various body functions return to normal.