Why you need lots of good quality sleep: Sleep loss affects work performance, ethics, memory and health

Sleep is hugely under-rated as a cognitive enhancer – proper sleep is a necessity

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See Wikipedia:Sleep deprivation). Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

for learning and memory, processes at the core of cognition. But sleep has lots more functions than enhancing cognition. Insomnia is a grim condition, and sleep deprivation causes all sorts of interesting problems, not least at work. Thesleep-deprived are at much greater risk of  behaving unethically: “… sleep quantity is positively related to self-control resources and negative associated with unethical behavior. In a cross-sectional field study examining unethical behavior in a variety of work settings, low levels of sleep, and low perceived quality of sleep, were both positively related to unethical behavior as rated by the supervisor, and cognitive fatigue mediated the influence of sleep quantity. In an experience sampling field study, we found similar effects within-individuals.” (pdf). Without sufficient sleep, you are much more likely to take dodgy short-cuts – ones that you would not contemplate if you were properly rested.

The sleep-deprived are more likely to suffer occupational injuries, even on oil rigs.Additionally, “sleep timing and duration affect a number of endocrine, metabolic, and neurological functions that are critical to the maintenance of individual health. If left untreated, sleep disorders and chronic short sleep are associated with an increased risk of:

Take the World Sleep Survey.

My book ‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’   (Harvard University Press) examines brain function under stress and duress, and the science, ethics and practice of human information gathering. It examines in detail the effects of sleep deprivation on learning, memory and psychopathology. Sleep deprivation is a profound stressor.

Author: Shane O'Mara

Neuroscientist

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