We’ve all had restless nights of not getting enough sleep that left us yawning and exhausted the next day, but it’s easy to bounce back, especially if you’re young, right? Not so much, according to new research. Many of us believe that a good night’s sleep or two will have us back to our fully functioning selves, but it turns out, it doesn’t happen quite that fast.
A new study looks specifically at 20-somethings and the lingering effects from a lack of sleep. Participants in their 20s slept 30% less than they needed for 10 nights and were then given seven nights of unrestricted sleep to recover. Sounds like it should be enough time, but even after a week, they still hadn’t fully recovered all of their cognitive processing. Things like memory and mental processing speed were still not fully restored after all those nights of catch-up sleep.
The study findings highlight why it’s so important not to have a sleep debt in the first place, according to sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta. And this study backs up previous research that found people who were sleeping fewer than six hours a night for two weeks - and thought they were doing just fine - were actually functioning as badly on cognitive and reflex tests as folks who didn’t get any sleep at all for two full nights.