The study involved nine healthy volunteers. For three weeks they kept to a strict sleep/wake schedule. They remained awake for 33 hours at a time. Then they slept for periods of 10 hours.
Results show that 10 hours of sleep always produced initial performance benefits. But performance quickly fell apart the longer they stayed awake.
“One long night of sleep can restore performance to normal levels for about six hours after waking,” lead author Dr. Daniel Cohen said in a press release. “However, the lingering effect of chronic sleep loss causes performance to deteriorate dramatically when these individuals stay awake for an extended period of time.”
The study found that chronic sleep loss caused reaction times to drop severely. Performance was most affected late at night and early in the morning.
The authors warned that the negative effects of chronic sleep loss are a serious safety hazard.
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