Feeling groggy after a night of tossing and turning?
Have plenty of company: More than 20% of American adults say they “rarely or never” wake up feeling well-rested, according to a recent US News & World Report poll.
Nearly half of survey respondents (43%) said they suffered from insomnia in 2023. If you’re among them — we’re looking at you, New Yorkers — there’s a quick way to get through your day without falling asleep in front of you. President.
A new study shows that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise, such as biking or brisk walking, improves cognitive performance, regardless of a person’s sleep status.
“We know from existing research that exercise improves or maintains our cognitive performance, even when oxygen levels are low,” Dr. Joe Costello, co-author of the study from the University of Portsmouth, UK, said in a press release.
“But this is the first study to suggest that it also improves cerebral palsy [cognitive performance] “After complete and partial sleep deprivation,” Costello added.
the study, Published in the Journal of Physiology and BehaviorIt involved two experiments, each with 12 different participants. The first looked at the effect of partial sleep deprivation on a person’s cognitive performance, and the second examined the effect of complete sleep deprivation and hypoxia (low oxygen levels).
In the first experiment, participants were allowed to sleep for only five hours per night over three days. Each morning, they were given seven mental tasks to perform while resting and then while cycling on a recumbent stationary bike.
In the second experiment, participants spent an entire night without sleep, and were then placed in a low-oxygen environment in the university’s extreme environment laboratories. Despite lower oxygen levels, exercise still improves cognitive performance.
In both experiments, all participants experienced a significant improvement in cognitive performance after spending 20 minutes cycling.
The research revealed that the effects of three nights of partial sleep on cognitive functions were inconsistent across participants, perhaps because some people are more resilient to moderate sleep loss.
However, regardless of sleep condition, moderate-intensity exercise improved performance on all cognitive tasks.
Co-author Dr Thomas Williams from the university’s Extreme Environment Research Group said: ‘One possible hypothesis as to why exercise improves cognitive performance is related to increased blood flow and oxygen in the brain.’
“However, our findings suggest that even when exercise is performed in an environment with low oxygen levels, participants were still able to perform cognitive tasks better than when they were in the same conditions,” Williams said.
For people who regularly struggle with sleep, other experts offer this advice: Stop worrying about it.
Consciously focusing on sleep may hinder the process, said Dr. Reena Mehra, director of sleep disorders research at the Cleveland Clinic. “It works against the individual,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
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