Multi-Night Sleep Restriction Impairs Long-Term Retention of Factual Knowledge in Adolescents
SourceJournal of Adolescent Health, 65, 4, (2019), pp. 549-557
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Adolescent Health
SubjectRadboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
PURPOSE: Sleep deprivation is associated with increased forgetting of declarative memories. Sleep restriction across multiple consecutive nights is prevalent in adolescents, but questions remain as to whether this pattern of sleep impairs memory for material typically learned in the classroom and the time course of retention beyond a few days. METHODS: Adolescents aged 15-18 years (n = 29) were given 5 hours sleep opportunity each night for 5 consecutive nights (sleep restricted group; SR), simulating a school week containing insufficient sleep. After the fourth night of restriction, participants learned detailed facts about different species of arthropod across a 6-hour period. Retention was tested 30 minutes and 3 days after learning and contrasted with a control group (n = 30) who had 9 hours sleep opportunity every night of the study. A subset of participants (SR, n = 14; control, n = 22) completed a surprise test 42 days after learning. RESULTS: Memory was significantly impaired in the SR group relative to controls, with 26% increased forgetting at the 30-minute test (t(57) = 2.54, p = .014, d = .66), 34% at the Day 3 test (t(57) = 2.65, p = .010, d = .69), and 65% at the Day 42 test (t(34) = 3.22, p = .003, d = 1.17). Vigilance was also significantly impaired after 4 nights of restricted sleep (p < .05), but did not correlate significantly with memory (p > .05). CONCLUSION: Long-term retention of classroom material is significantly compromised when adolescents learn after being sleep restricted, reinforcing the importance of keeping good sleep habits to optimize learning.
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