Sleep deprivation has been proven to affect ‘placekeeping’ which refers to the ability to compete a series of steps without losing your place, even amid possible interruptions.

The Sleep and Learning Lab at Michigan State University in the US found that sleep deprivation doubles the chances of making placekeeping errors and triples the number of lapses in attention. Consider a doctor who may be sleep-deprived while taking a patient’s vitals, quite a routine task. This was found to be reasonably unaffected however if the same doctor was to perform a medical procedure involving multiple steps, there may be a risk of missing a step or making mistakes.

The study required 138 people to participate in an overnight sleep assessment. Of these, 77 stayed awake the entire night and 61 were able to go home to sleep. They were all asked to perform two individual cognitive tasks in the evening. One of them measured reaction time to a particular stimulus and the other measured the person’s capacity to keep their place in a series of steps without repeating or leaving out a step, even when faced with interruptions. In the morning, everyone had to repeat both tasks to gauge how their lack of sleep affected performance.

The evening tasks, when interrupted, resulted in a 15% error rate but the numbers soared to 30% for the sleep-deprived participants in the morning. For those who had slept, the morning scores remained about the same as their night scores.

It’s incredible to think that a lot of people we encounter every single day are dealing with sleep deprivation: parents of newborns, night shift workers, carers of ill family members, those expected to endure impossibly long shifts (like new doctors).

Sleep deprivation is typically defined as six or fewer hours of sleep, for at least three nights in a row.

If you’re not getting the length or quality of sleep you need, you owe it to yourself to make a change. Maybe you need to ask for help from family members, move away from night shift or find ways to put yourself to bed at a time that will guarantee you the amount of sleep you need.

Our products can help you switch off when you need to, so that your brain can relax and allow sleep to take over. Visit our shop for more information.