Sleep is an important part of our daily function. It allows our body to recharge and repair itself. That is why when we think that we did not get enough zzz’s, we tend to feel tired and sluggish. But a recent study suggests that we can “trick” our brain that we had a good night’s sleep.
According to researchers from the Colorado College, it is possible to trick the brain into believing that it has slept well even when it has not. It can result into experiencing the same effects as a good night’s sleep. The researchers attribute it to the placebo effect, which happens when patients are given inactive drugs without their knowledge but results in improvements in health.
The study involved 164 participants who were separated into two separate groups. They were instructed to rate their sleep the night before on a scale from 1 to 10. The researchers also told the participants that they will be hooked up to a new sleep machine, which can measure the quality of their sleep accurately by taking their pulse, heart rate and brainwave frequency. However, unknown to the participants, the said machine does not really work, only provide a result that the participants got a good night’s sleep. One group was told that their REM sleep the night before were above average at 28.7 percent. The other group was told that they had lower REM sleep the night before, averaging only 16.2 percent.
The participants were also informed that on average, people get REM sleep 20 to 25 percent of their sleep time each night. In addition, participants were told that getting less than 20 percent of REM sleep each night can lead to poor performance in learning and memory tests. Those who got more REM sleep performed better. After being told of their sleep quality through the sleep machine, the participants were then given tests which measured their auditory attention and processing speed, abilities that can be affected most by sleep deprivation.
The participants who got machine results telling them that they got more REM sleep performed better on performance tests, regardless of how they feel the slept the night before. According to the study report which was led by Kristi Erdal and Christina Draganich, “In these experiments, cognitive functioning appeared to be mediated by placebo information, as it was dependent on the assigned sleep quality told to the participants as opposed to their actual self-reported sleep quality.” The surprising results may indicate that it is possible for people to tell themselves that they have a good night’s sleep or that your bedtime routine is working.
Source: The Telegraph