The effects of a horrible night

The effects of a horrible night The incredible effects of sleep on our mental health are no secret: sleeping well not only improves our mood, but also allows us to make better decisions, promotes concentration and protects our brains from neurodegenerative diseases. But now the researchers wanted to go a step further by asking themselves: if we think we slept well, even if we don't, will our intellectual abilities still improve?

Some curiosities about sleep disorders

Psychologists from the University of Colorado recruited 50 students and told them they would engage them in an experiment on sleep quality and cognitive performance. However, they also explained to them that they had a specific method for assessing sleep quality that did not depend on the number of hours slept or the perceived feeling of relaxation, but on more objective measurements regarding brain waves and heart rate. In other words, the researchers led them to believe that their sleep quality measurement technique was far more accurate and objective than theirs.

Next, the students slept in a sleep laboratory where their sleep quality was supposedly assessed. The next day, some were told that they had only experienced 16,2% REM sleep the night before (below average sleep quality), while the other half were told that they had experienced a qualitatively superior sleep the night before. average, with 28,7% of REM sleep.

Then, each student had to solve complex arithmetic tasks. At this point the question was: Could the placebo effect on sleep quality affect the results?

The answer is yes: those who were told they had a restful sleep outweighed those who allegedly slept poorly. It is worth remembering that they did not get very good results, as the average score achieved was 34 compared to 36 for a normal condition, but in any case, their scores were still well above those obtained by those who believed they had slept. bad, who had scored a very low average of only 22 points.


The explanations can be different. For example, perhaps the boys who were told they slept poorly did not try hard enough because they believed their expectations were not high, while those who were told they slept well tried harder because they believed they would. done better. Another explanation, based on the classic placebo effect, is that when the students became convinced they had a restful sleep they tried much harder.

One way or another, the interesting side is that this study opens up new possibilities for people with problems like insomnia. To what extent are we able to improve our performance by convincing ourselves that we slept well? After spending a horrible night, are the slowness and irritability we experience due to lack of sleep or rather our perception that we have slept badly?

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