AsianScientist (Mar. 8, 2019) – In a study published in the journal Sleep, researchers in Singapore discovered that sleep patterns in adolescent students impact their cognitive performance and blood glucose tolerance levels.
Many adolescent students sleep less than the recommended duration of eight to ten hours a night. It is unclear, however, whether a short duration of sleep at night combined with an afternoon nap is as good as having the same amount of sleep continuously during the night without a nap.
In this study, scientists led by Professor Michael Chee at the Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Medical School have demonstrated that different sleep patterns affected different aspects of health in students aged 15-19 years.
The researchers measured cognitive performance and glucose levels following a standardized load in students during two simulated school weeks with short sleep on school days and recovery sleep on weekends. On school days, these students received either continuous sleep of 6.5 hours at night or split sleep—night sleep of five hours plus a 1.5 hour afternoon nap.
“We undertook this study after students who were advised on good sleep habits asked if they could split up their sleep across the day and night, instead of having a main sleep period at night,” said Chee.
The team found that compared to being able to sleep nine hours a night, having only 6.5 hours of sleep in 24 hours degrades performance and mood. Interestingly, under conditions of sleep restriction, students in the split sleep group exhibited better alertness, vigilance, working memory and mood than their counterparts who slept 6.5 hours continuously. However, students who slept 6.5 hours continuously fared better when tested for glucose tolerance.
“While 6.5 hours of night sleep did not affect glucose levels, the split sleep group demonstrated a greater increase in blood glucose levels to the standardized glucose load in both simulated school weeks,” noted Associate Professor Joshua Gooley of Duke-NUS Medical School who co-authored the study.
Although further studies are necessary to see if this finding translates to a higher risk of diabetes later in life, the current findings indicate that beyond sleep duration, different sleep schedules can affect different facets of health and function in directions that are not immediately clear, said the researchers.
Source: Duke-NUS Medical School; Photo: Pexels.
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