You’ll accomplish more if you give your body sufficient downtime.
Entrepreneurs often claim to need minimal sleep. Yet the vast majority of people actually require six to seven hours, according to Michael Chee, director of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.
In a 2008 study, Chee and his team used functional MRI technology to observe sleep-deprived brains. They appear to function normally at certain times, which is what tricks people into thinking they need less sleep. However, lack of sleep suppresses activity in parts of the brain that control attention and filter distractions. Chee’s team showed both sleep-deprived and well-rested subjects a series of large letters made up of smaller letters and asked them to identify either the large or small letters by pressing one of two buttons. Responses from the sleep-deprived group were both slower and less accurate.
Lack of sleep also affects your ability to control your emotions. In 2007, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Berkeley, used functional MRI imaging to see how sleep-deprived brains react to viewing disturbing images and found that they are more than 60 percent more reactive than well-rested brains. The good news is that prolonged sleep can boost performance. Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory has studied the influence of sleep on college basketball players. Her research showed that when the players slept for at least 10 hours a night, longer than usual, their shooting accuracy improved 9 percent.
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