People Are Groggy Upon Awakening
According to a new study, "Effects of Sleep Inertia on Cognition", which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, when people first wake up after at least eight hours of sleep, their thinking and memory skills are more impaired than when they have gone without sleep for 24 hours.
"Sleep inertia" is the groggy period of time when one first wakes up. Reseaarchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder studied only 16 subjects (9 of them paid). By "studied", I mean researchers monitored them over six nights of sleep, then each morning immediately "encouraged" them to take a test consisting of adding "randomly generated, two-digit numbers". While waiting for their next night of sleep, the study participants were given a special activity. They "spent several hours each day during their six-day, in-patient stay practicing the math test used to quantify sleep inertia."
Those 9 paid volunteers? Not paid enough.
Apparently the "the subjects exhibited the most severe impairments from sleep inertia within the first three minutes after awakening... The most severe effects of sleep inertia generally dissipated within the first 10 minutes, although its effects are often detectable for up to two hours." No coffee was provided during those first ten minutes, but good question.
While the study was pretty small, as lead study author Assistant Professor Kenneth Wright noted, "This is the first time anyone has quantified the effects of sleep inertia." That makes it an interesting study, one which Wright says has implications for those who work long and sometimes unpredictible hours (particularly those in the medical field, and other emergency personnel, such as firefighters, but applies to others such as commercial truckers).
According to the university's press release, "Wright and his colleagues said further studies are needed to measure the effects of nap interruption and 'recovery sleep' in on-call, sleep-deprived individuals."
The press release includes this super soundbite from Wright, "For a short period, at least, the effects of sleep inertia may be as bad as or worse than being legally drunk."
CNN.com's headline for the study: "Study: Waking up like being drunk". Oh my.
I'd like a grant to study studies and the way they're covered, ignored, mocked, and distrusted.
Did we really need a study to tell us that while you're pretty groggy when you first wake up, you get more alert pretty quickly?
LCD Soundsystem - Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up (from LCD Soundsystem)
The Wonder Stuff - Inertia (from Never Loved Elvis)
New Order - Confusion (from Substance 1987, etc.)
Rilo Kiley - We'll Never Sleep (God Knows We'll Try) (from Take Offs And Landings)
Ivy - Four In The Morning (from In The Clear)
My Bloody Valentine - (When You Wake) You're Still In A Dream (from Isn't Anything)
Saint Etienne - Carn't Sleep (from Foxbase Alpha)