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From lack of sleep in people, gait worsens, legs begin to "braid"

What is sleep deprivation and how negatively it affectson well-being, for sure, everyone knows. In this state, we become inattentive and absent-minded, we make mistakes even in simple everyday tasks, we become forgetful, it becomes more difficult to maintain conversations, and the desire disappears in this. In addition, lack of sleep affects mood - a person becomes irritable, and with prolonged lack of sleep, depression may even develop. At the same time, the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease increases. But, as it turned out, sleep deprivation negatively affects not only our emotions and mental abilities, but also reflex actions that we perform without thinking. This includes such important things as walking. People who do not get enough sleep, gait becomes less confident and beautiful, control worsens, as a result of which the legs, as people say, “braid”. This is the conclusion reached by the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, having conducted a study on students who, as you know, do not get enough sleep at the end of the semester.

Lack of sleep impairs a person's gait

Lack of sleep leads to clumsiness

A team from the University of São Paulo providedeach of the students a watch to track their activity for 14 days. This information gave researchers an idea of ​​when and for how long the students slept. At the same time, the participants in the experiment were not given any instructions about what should be their sleep patterns. That is, they lived their normal lives in order to get results in the most natural conditions possible. On average, each student slept about six hours a day, although some made up for the lack of sleep by getting enough sleep over two weekends.

The experiment lasted exactly two weeks.On the evening before the 14th day, when the researchers were to receive the results, one group of students did not sleep all night. It was designated as the acute sleep deprivation group, or SAD. On the morning of the 14th day, all students went to the lab to take a walking test.

Every student had to walk on a treadmillat the tempo set by the metronome. During the test, the authors of the work gradually and imperceptibly for the students changed the pace. In this case, the cameras filmed the walking of the participants in the experiment. Analyzing the recording, the scientists came to the conclusion that mistakes were made by students who did not get enough sleep. Moreover, they not only walked out of rhythm with the metronome, but in general their gait was worse, as if they were “dragging” their feet.

The study found that students who did not get enough sleep were unable to walk rhythmically and adjust to the changing tempo of the metronome.

The result itself is quite obvious, howeverscientists were surprised by the comparison of the gait of students from the SAD group. Among them were those who slept all week for 6 hours, and those who got enough sleep on weekends. As it turned out, the second group had a better gait and made fewer mistakes. Details of the work are described in the journal Scientific Reports.

“This is paradoxical.Even at its peak, when most people were tired, the group of students compensating for the lack of sleep on the weekends performed better than we expected, ”says study author Forner-Cordero.

Walking is also a mental process

It has long been believed that walking is almosta completely automatic process requiring only a little conscious cognitive control. This assumption has been confirmed by some studies that have been carried out on animals. They showed that walking is driven primarily by reflexive spinal activity rather than cognitive processes associated with the brain.

Scientists say you need to get enough sleep at least on weekends

However, this applies to four-legged animals thatfor humans, the assumption of reflexive walking has been more controversial. And the latest research by scientists has shown that it is indeed a more complex process than previously thought.

“The results show that gait is notan automatic process and can be affected by sleep deprivation. They also offer strategies to mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation. Ideally, everyone should sleep eight hours a night. But if we can't get enough sleep, then we need to compensate for sleep as much and more often, ”says Hermano Krebs, chief scientist in the mechanical engineering department at MIT.

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Over the past decade, Krebs has carefully studiedgait control and gait mechanics to develop strategies and assisted robotics for patients with stroke and other movement-limiting health problems. The current study, according to the scientist, may help to increase the efficiency of the work of people who, due to their duty, have to regularly lack sleep - these are the military, doctors who work in shifts, etc. Finally, I would also like to remind you that lack of sleep affects not only gait, but even the aging process. Therefore, you should not neglect the advice of experts about the need to get enough sleep at least sometimes.