In recent times prolonged wakefulness has become a problem, especially concerning cognitive performance. Sleep quantity has a direct relationship with the cognitive performance. When appropriate adjustments are made for age, sex and the experience of individuals, the duration of the sleep other than the quality directly influences the visual-spatial abilities of individuals. Although the verbal ability may not be affected as the effect is most felt in the visual motor performance of the individual. Accumulated sleep debts can be due to two factors, namely complete sleep deprivation and the partial chronic restriction of sleep. The role of about sleep deprivation and partial chronic restriction of sleep on the working memory and the attention of an individual is paramount. They totally impair the vigilance and the more difficult cognitive functions of an individual. Well instituted recovery processes for cognitive functions are therefore important. Cognitive tests done on individuals can be a sure way to determine the relationship between the quantities of the sleep on the cognitive performance of the individuals. Using the about of sleep for a various time spans as the independent variables and the measures of cognitive performance as the dependent variables, the effect of accumulated sleep debt on the fulfillment of the individuals can be established.
Lack of sleep and cognitive function
Hypotheses: The quantity of sleep by an individual has a direct influence on specific brain structures and functions of the individual thereby affecting the cognitive performance.
Sleep quantity concerns the number of hours spent in sleep by an individual and differs from sleep quality which is dependent on the how well the individual sleeps at night. The quantity of sleep plays a vital role in the maturation of the brain and the development of important cognitive performances such as the learning and consolidation of memory. Recent technological developments have played a vital role in the time spent by people in sleep. Various technological appliances such as computers televisions and video games have been commonly installed within the sleeping rooms influencing the time quantity of sleep by the individuals.
Although the need to sleep varies considerably among individuals based on their gender or activity, they are engaged in, and it has been observed that a sleep length of between seven and eight and half hours each day is average recommended and healthy (Suzuki, 2002). The understanding of the relationship between the functions of sleep such as homeostasis and the circadian cycle and the effects of the lack of sleep is paramount in this experiment. Bodily functions such as thermoregulation, the restitution of the body and conservation of the energy produced by the body all depend on adequate sleep. These functions are as a result paramount to the cognitive performance of the body, especially the consolidation of the individual’s memory. This knowledge does for the understanding of the relationship that exists between the cognitive performance of a person and the quantity of sleep over a different period.
Little and deprived quantities of sleep result into the activation of the sympathetic nervous system which has consequences such as increased blood pressures and the secretion of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that when combined with strains such as increased blood pressure gradually stimulates the mechanisms related to impaired immunity and metabolic processes dysfunction. Hormonal and immunological changes due to metabolic impairment may lead to the changes in the mood of the individual and the reduced effectiveness of the individual’s cognitive performance.
Sleep deprivation and cognitive function
Sleep quantity patterns vary based on several factors including the age, sex, and activity of the individual. Conventionally, children under the age of five should have about twelve hours of sleep. Although, younger infants may have reduced periods of sleep which have shorter sleep cycles known as deep sleep (Nairne, 2014). Research has established the importance of sleep quantity as the motivation behind the introduction of midday nap in lower schooling years. Further study has indicated that children recall up to more than ten percent of the learned material in the tests given after the nap. This based upon the fact that the sleep period is vital for the consolidation of the learned material, as well as helping in evading the interference that comes from wakefulness. The sensitivity of the brain to sleep is significant such that even a one hour difference of sleep between individuals has important implications for the various individuals.
As an individual grows the circadian cycle and sleep behavior do change significantly implicating major alterations to the sleep restriction patterns. In this advanced age, the occurrence of sleep disruption is common, and the sleep debt increases especially over the weekends. In some instances, the effect of delayed sleep patterns do extend to the weekdays during school hours leading to a drastic negative impact on the class performance due to the impairment of some of the cognitive functions of the individual.
Also, there have been researching indications that support the expression of cognitive function dependence on sleep in males more than females, particularly in the adolescent and youth age. According to the research, the effects of sleep deprivation are more profound in females than the males. In pregnant women, however, there is a change sleep cycle with lesser night sleep and prolonged latent daylight sleepiness (Burton, Westen, Kowalski, & Westen, 2015). This occurrence is mostly associated with the second trimester of gestation and directly affects the memory ability of the individuals alongside other cognitive functions. In menopause, there is interrupted sleep resulting into lower sleep quantities and low memory among the women. However, the effects of age on the sleep quantity are higher than the effects of menopause.
In old age, it is the sleep quality that is more affected than the quantity. Night problems such as chronic illnesses, discomfort, and body pain hamper both the quantity and quality of sleep in individuals of advanced age starting from the late fifties into the sixties. Daytime napping by individuals in their old age is associated with lesser cognitive problems. It is also associated with low risks of the decline of the cognitive performance of the individuals.
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