Researchers of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have concluded recently that reducing the duration of sleep by 1.5-2 hours for only three nights in a row lessens the number of positive feelings while negative ones remain at the same level.
According to the author of the study, Associate Professor Ingvild Saksvik-Lehouillier from the Department of Psychology, people who were sleep-deprived felt more down and depressed. Moreover, the participants experienced less joy, enthusiasm and satisfaction.
At the beginning of the experiment, the participants slept in their own beds for a week according to the usual schedule, and the baseline data was recorded. Then, for three nights they went to bed 1,5 - 2 hours later than their usual time. However, not to compensate the imposed sleep deprivation, the participants had to get up as at their normal hours.
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Every morning 1,5 hours after waking up, the participants had to take a test. For 14 minutes they were shown 365 images with a randomised set of letters. They had to press the space bar if there was no “x” on the image and do nothing if there was. The participants seemed to be more reactive, but the number of errors increased as well. According to the researchers, the increase in the speed of reaction is the body's response to compensate for a decrease in concentration.
In the second part of the test, the participants were asked 20 questions to access their emotional state. Regarding positive emotions rate, it significantly decreased already after the first night of sleep and reduced even more after the third one. Concerning the negative emotions rate, no significant dynamics was observed.
«It's easy for us to go to bed later than we should, especially when we think, 'I just have to finish watching this series.' But we still have to get up to go to work, or study, or deliver our kids to kindergarten. This contributes to getting too little sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time is recommended (…) Sleep is individual. Not everyone needs to sleep seven and a half hours every night. The most important thing is how you feel. If you're in a good mood and alert when you get up, those are indications that your sleep habits are working for you».
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Based on academic.oup.com materials.