We’ve all had sleepless nights in our life. Every once in a while your baby can’t sleep well, you drank too much coffee, you have to pull an all nighter, or you are just very restless and can’t get to sleep.
A new study shows that when sleep deprivation occurs, it affects women’s working memory worse for women than men.
What is Working Memory? They use the term working memory to refers to us being able to remember information for short time frames, and also be able to make decisions and complete tasks. Basically doing a few tasks at the same time.
Prior research has shown that working memory is affected negatively when we do not sleep.
A new study showed how not sleeping well impacts our working memory. This study was done by the Department of Neuroscience at Upsalla University in Sweden (led by Frida Rångtell, a Ph.D. student). In particular the study wanted to show how lack of sleep affects men and women differently, in particular there working memory.
The study was reported in the findings in the Journal of Sleep Research.
In this study there was a total of 24 young adults 12 men and 12 women and each of them completed a memory test one week apart. There were two groups:
- One group took a test after a full night of sleep (8 hours of sleep)
- The second group of people took the test after an entire night of sleep loss.
The memory test required the participants to remember an eight-digit sequence of numbers. Each subject repeated the test 16 times, and the team used their average scores to estimate their working memory performance.
The researchers study showed that a night of sleep loss had no effect on the working memory of men. But the result was very different for the women in the study. The woman in the studies' working memory was reduced.
Rångtell and his team say that this result may be a concern for women. "Working memory is central in cognitive functioning and key to perform[ing] efficiently and effectively in academic, professional, and social settings," they write in their paper. The researchers said that this represents a ricks factor for harmful accident and mistakes that can happen when women don’t sleep enough."
Source: Staying up all night harms women's working memory
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