As we all work longer and longer hours, take less vacation and work through the weekend, we may assume we’re being heroic, or virtuous. The truth is we’re not; new research shows we’re stupid. Quite literally.
Missing just one night’s sleep has a noticeable impact on the brain’s ability to function as Dardo Tomasi and his colleagues at the Brookhaven National Laboratory discovered when they took 14 healthy, non-smoking right-handed men and made half of them stay awake through the night. In the morning, both rested and groggy subjects were put through a serious of tests that involved tracking ten balls on a screen. As they completed the tests, an MRI scanner took pictures of their brains, to see how the rested brain differed from the one that was deprived of sleep. They found that the sleepier the subjects, the lower their accuracy in the tests.