January 16, 2010 07:20
Catching up on sleep at the weekend after a few weeks of too little of it may feel refreshing but can have serious effects on health, a study suggests.
AP said on Wednesday researchers found that those who are chronically deprived of sleep may function normally soon after waking up but experience steadily slower reaction times as the day goes on, even if they had tried to catch up on insufficient sleep. The findings "have important safety implications" not just for shift-workers but also for people who get six hours or less of sleep a night, it said.
Lead researcher Dr. Daniel Cohen of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital said staying awake for 24 hours impairs body performance to a level comparable to a blood-alcohol content beyond the legal limit to drive. The deterioration increases 10-fold for those who are chronically short of sleep, he added.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health say adults need seven to nine hours of sleep for their health. According to the NIH, too little sleep increases the risk of health problems including heart disease, memory impairment and weakened immunity. More visibly, it results in longer reaction times, and therefore chronic lack of sleep poses an increased risk of car and other accidents.
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