NEW YORK (Dispatches) -- A joint university study finds that making up for lost sleep helps reduce fatigue-induced clumsiness, at least in how you walk.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of São Paulo in Brazil in experiments with student volunteers, found that overall, the less sleep students got, the less control they had when walking during a treadmill test. For students who pulled an all-nighter before the test, this gait control plummeted even further.
Interestingly, for those who didn’t stay up all night before the test, but who generally had less-than-ideal sleep during the week, those who slept in on weekends performed better than those who didn’t.
They also found that compensating for sleep could be an important strategy. For instance, for those who are chronically sleep-deprived, like shift workers, clinicians, and some military personnel, if they build in regular sleep compensation, they might have better control over their gait.
The results show that gait is not an automatic process, and that it can be affected by sleep deprivation.They also suggest strategies for mitigating effects of sleep deprivation. Ideally, everyone should sleep eight hours a night. But if we can’t, then we should compensate as much and as regularly as possible.