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Science Says: Up All Night

Submitted by Alexandria Barnes on October 5, 2016 – 12:00 pmNo Comment

It always amazes me when I meet other college students who tell me they manage to get a full night’s sleep every night. I just don’t see how. Between classes, multiple jobs, sorority life, and family and friends, I’m lucky if I can get five or six hours of sleep. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to get a full eight.

A lot of college students, I’m sure, find themselves running on little to no sleep each day. But though you may feel like you’re making it along okay, a new study suggests you might be more tired than you actually feel.

A study conducted at the University of Utah found that most people that get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night usually feel more irritable, fatigued, and tired. However, there are some people, called “super sleepers” that may actually be genetically wired to be able to function on less sleep.  Nonetheless, the study showed that even though these “super sleepers” might feel fine throughout the day, their actual daily real-life functions may actually be affected by their sleep shortage.

In the study, a group of 839 people had their brains scanned while they were awake. They were divided into two groups – group one reported having seven to nine hours of sleep a night and group two reported having less than six hours a night. Group two was then divided into two more groups – one saying they felt fine with so little sleep and the other saying they were too tired to function normally on so little sleep.

The study showed that, while awake, people who had less than six hours of sleep had brain waves similar to a sleeping person. Meaning that even though some people claimed to be functional, they may actually be drifting off while doing day-to-day activities.

Researchers said that it is often difficult for people to notice if they’ve drifted off for a minute or two. It was also noted that the test subjects could have fallen asleep because their brains were not being stimulated enough during the scan. Previous research shows that “super sleepers” often have personalities that seek out stimulation, as well. And possibly because of this stimulation, they may not be aware that they are actually tired.

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