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Why trying to catch up on lost sleep may be a lost cause

Trying to make up for lost sleep may be a lost cause, a new study concluded.

Skimping on sleep and then taking a long snoozes to recover led to lower attention spans and creativity in young adults, according to the study by Baylor University.

“The more variability they showed in their night-to-night sleep, the worse their cognition declined across the week,” said study co-author Michael Scullin, Ph.D., director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory.

The study of interior design students is published online in the Journal of Interior Design  also has implications for art, architecture, graphic design and other disciplines.

Interior design is “a strange culture, one where sleep deprivation is almost a badge of honor,” said lead author Elise King, assistant professor of interior design in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.

The study challenges the myth — that “the best design ideas only come in the middle of the night,” King said. Researchers found the opposite — that “consistent habits are at least as important as total length of sleep,” Scullin said.

Irregular sleep hurts creativity and “executive attention” — intense focus for planning, making decisions, correcting errors and dealing with novelty, the study said.

Although the National Sleep Foundation recommends that young adults have seven to nine hours of sleep each day, the 28 interior design students in the Baylor study slept for short times and erratically. Only one participant slept seven hours or more nightly and 79 percent slept fewer than seven hours at least three nights during the week.

Broadening the study across  greater range of students across multiple studio-based majors and multiple universities would be valuable, researchers said.

By: David Staff Writer

Source: Baylor University

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