What “Sleep Belief” Can Do
An interesting study making the rounds this week suggests that there may be a powerful effect associated with how much sleep with think we’ve had. Researchers noted that study participants who believed they had slept soundly performed better on a battery of cognitive tests than those who believed they had slept poorly:
The results: “When participants were informed that they had experienced below-average sleep quality the night before, they tended to perform worse on the test, regardless of how well they felt they had slept,” the researchers write. “The observed pattern of cognitive functioning is consistent with what one might observe if participants had actually experienced a poor night’s sleep.”
The second experiment, featuring 114 undergraduates, replicated the first with a few additions. It produced the same results for the serial addition test.
This is hardly a new phenomenon in psychology or medicine, of course; the literature is rife with reports of self-fulfilling placebo effects in all areas of human health. But it’s a nice reminder that the sleep-brain-psychology matrix remains alive and well, and that each has a role to play in our daily function.
One thing placebos cannot solve, however, is the very close association between obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular events. So if you are truly waking throughout the night and find yourself exhausted no matter how many people are telling you otherwise, it may be time to look into one of the surgical procedures for apnea.