The sleep rhythm has a lasting impact on our physical and mental health. Now scientists from the Surrey Sleep Research Center at the University of Surrey, together with colleagues, have found other universities that have shifted sleep-wake cycles in women have a much more detrimental effect on cognitive abilities than men. According to the researchers, women are, for example, more vulnerable to the effects of shift work. The results of their study have been published by the researchers in the specialist magazine "PNAS".
Most people are aware of the impairment of mental performance when fatigue or asleep. Shifts of the sleep-wake cycle( circadian rhythm) show a comparable effect, which has already been investigated in many studies. The British scientists from the University of Surrey, the University of Cambridge and the University of Hull have now, together with colleagues from the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, analyzed the gender-specific differences in a shift of the circadian rhythm. It became clear that women are much more dependent on a balanced sleep-wake cycle than men, in order to avoid cognitive impairments.
Cognitive performance impaired
In the course of their study, the researchers analyzed the effect of shifting their circadian rhythm on the basis of 16 male and 18 female volunteers. The test persons were examined in an environment without natural light sources, the sleep-wake rhythm being shifted by controlled light-dark cycles. During the awake period the participants had to complete a wide range of tests every three hours, give a self-assessment of their fatigue and assess their mood. In addition, the electrical activity in her brain was monitored during sleep phases. In particular, the objective tests for the measurement of cognitive performance showed considerable changes as a result of the shift of the circadian rhythm, according to the University of Surrey.
Nightly women particularly disturbing
According to the researchers, both the men and the women were affected by the postponed sleep-wake cycles."However, the effect on performance was much stronger in women than in men, so that women were affected more cognitively in the early morning hours, which in the real world coincides with the end of a night shift," reports the University of Surrey. According to this, night strata are clearly more disturbing for women than for men. According to the researchers, the increased impairments of cognitive performance, which are to be noted, should be taken into consideration urgently.
For the first time, the current study has shown that displacement of the internal clock affects the performance of men and women differently, reports Dr. Nayantara Santhi from the University of Surrey. Professor Derk-Jan Dijk adds that the results show "how important it is to capture both men and women in research and to consider a wide range of subjective and objective indicators of brain function."( Fp)