The world's largest sleep experiment was launched last week by Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist and part-time wannabe rock star. Despite his extravagant dreams of headlining rock festivals, Owen may be on the verge of cracking the secrets of sleep! He recruited over 50,000 people to conduct an online test answering the pressing question: if I am not getting enough sleep, is it making me dumber?
Sleep has been proven to be as vital as water for life but still people debate why we give so much time to sleep. However, many people believe our sleeping hours are the most important in the day, since sleep allows us to recover from our busy lifestyles. Owen believes sleep is not all it seems: he states, "we think we are cut off from the world, but the brain stays very responsive," hence the phenomenon of dreams.
Sleep deprivation can impair driving abilities as much as alcohol: this leads us to asks the question if our tiredness is affecting our intelligence and motivation? Owen believes productivity is lost from lack of sleep - and we can all probably relate to this in some way. How many times have you needed that extra hour in bed on a Monday morning or caught your colleague yawning?
People often believe that you must sleep for eight hours a night to function. Despite this being a healthy amount of shut eye, it differs from person to person. Some people would appear to cope better with sleep deprivation, such as Margaret Thatcher, who reportedly thrived on four hours a night as prime minister. Silentnight sleep expert, Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, says: there is far too much significance placed on the holy grail of eight hours. Everyone's sleep requirements are different and it's up to you how you feel when you wake up."
Sleep is often a matter of opinion, everyone is clearly different. If you feel your amount of sleep is affecting your productivity, perhaps try to get that extra hour in on a night. Alternatively, having a good routine on a morning always helps. If you are still unsure whether your sleep is affecting your intelligence, Owen will lay bare the findings of his study later this year at the Manchester Science Festival.