The study, run by Stephen Frenda and Kimberly Fenn, involved testing 104 students’ ability to recall the details of photographs from a simulated burglary. Those students who didn’t get a good night’s sleep were more likely to both miss and make mistakes in the tests they were given. Some even remembering things that didn’t happen at all. Another study showed that better sleep improves learning and memory. Lack of sleep can also cost you a lot of money.
The study which was published in the Association of Psychological Science Journal this week was unique in the sense that it tested situational memory responses. Similar studies in the past have simply tested people’s ability to remember lists of words.
Study lead, Stephen J Frenda says, “I was surprised to find that there were so few empirical studies connecting sleep deprivation with memory distortion in an eyewitness context. The studies that do exist look mostly at sleep-deprived people’s ability to accurately remember lists of words – not real people, places and events.”
He goes on to state that this type of knowledge – thought relevant to us all – is especially valuable to those acting as, or relying on witnesses in the criminal justice system. In this world of constant work and coffee drinking, defense lawyers may be on to a whole new tactic!
But whether it’s in court, or just in every day life – sleep deprivation affects us more than we think. So much so, the Centers for Disease Protection have declared lack of sleep an endemic which causes diseases like hypertension and diabetes, plus accidents in the workplace and on the road.
So if you’ve noticed yourself becoming forgetful lately, there could be a very simple answer. And if an early night doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you can always join nearly nine million other Americans who’re regularly using sleeping pills for a bit of shut-eye. But ssshhh! that’s another topic all together.
(Photo courtesy of Christopher)