January 13, 2010
WASHINGTON (AP) -- New research shows that sleeping in on Saturday is no real cure for the chronically sleep deprived.
Scientists found that the extra sleep may help people feel fresher and function better when they first wake up. But as the day wears on, those with long-term sleep loss experience steadily slower reactions times.
Roughly one in six Americans regularly get six hours of sleep or less, while the National Institutes of Health says adults need seven to nine hours for good health. Regularly getting too little sleep increases the risk of health problems, including impaired memory and a weakened immune system.
But the immediate effect is on reaction times.
The study's lead researcher says staying awake for 24 hours impairs performance on a level comparable to a blood-alcohol content beyond the legal limit to drive. And, Dr. Daniel Cohen adds that when a chronically sleep-deprived person pulls an all-nighter, "the deterioration is increased tenfold."
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