28 Feb Sleep Deprivation and Working Memory Performance across Genders
A study from the Department of Neuroscience of Uppsala University in Sweden investigated the changes in working memory performance after a single night of total sleep deprivation. The study focuses on the differences between male and female participants.
Sleep deprivation is often insinuated to coincide with a reduction in cognitive performance. Indeed, studies have previously shown that chronic sleep deprivation objectively reduces cognitive performance. Further, research, and perhaps universal anecdote, indicate that acute sleep deprivation has similar effects. Rangtell et al., (2018) study the effects of the latter as compared between men and women. Additionally, this is one of few publications that researches the changes in cognition following acute sleep deprivation, in a controlled setting. Participants underwent polysomnography to confirm that they indeed achieved a full night of sleep prior to testing, and then, one week later, underwent polysomnography to confirm a lack of sleep. Following both tests, patients were administered a digital working memory test, in which eight-digit sequences were accompanied by either silence or auditory distraction. Additionally, subjective measurements were taken, such that the patients were able to indicate whether they thought that they were impaired at all.
Therefore, the study aimed to test whether cognitive performance is affected by sleep deprivation, whether that performance is then further influenced by auditory distraction, whether subjective ratings predict cognitive performance, and finally if there is a difference in performance between genders.
The results indicate, of course, that cognitive performance declines following sleep deprivation. Auditory distraction influences cognitive performance, but not to a greater extent when sleep deprived. No subgroup indicated any change in cognitive performance. Men, as a subgroup, did not present a significant change in cognitive performance. Women had a statistically significant change in performance following sleep deprivation, but were unable to predict this.
Rångtell, F. H., Karamchedu, S., Andersson, P., Liethof, L., Olaya Búcaro, M., Lampola, L., Schiöth, H. B., Cedernaes, J. and Benedict, C. (2018), A single night of sleep loss impairs objective but not subjective working memory performance in a sex-dependent manner. J Sleep Res. doi:10.1111/jsr.12651