You probably already know that missing sleep is bad for productivity. Maybe you've also heard that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call lack of sleep a public epidemic and links it to industrial disasters and chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. But it gets worse. A new study suggests it may damage your memory, too.
That's according to researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine, who found participants deprived of sleep were more likely to stumble over the details of a simulated burglary they were shown in a series of images. "We found memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation," said Kimberly Fenn, MSU associate professor of psychology and co-researcher on the study. "And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have."
When the researchers conducted their experiments at MSU and UC-Irvine, they found participants who were kept awake for 24 hours--or those who just got five or fewer hours of shut-eye--had a greater chance of mixing up event details than those who were well-rested.
In the long run, said Fenn, a lack of sleep could lead people "to develop these forms of memory distortion. It's not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk."
The habit could harm others as well. While your ability to do even the simplest of tasks is impaired, it can also make you a hazard on the road. According to Harvard, "drowsy driving" causes one-fifth of car crashes in the U.S., leading to the deaths of 8,000 people a year.