February 03, 2018

Staying up all night harms women's working memory


Most of us have experienced the "brain fog" that comes after a bad night's sleep. A new study, however, reveals that when it comes to the effect of sleep deprivation on working memory, women fare worse than men.

The term working memory refers to our ability to hold information for short periods of time, at the same time as using it to make decisions or complete tasks.

One example of working memory is adding a contact to your cell phone; you are temporarily storing a string of numbers in your mind while simultaneously tapping them onto your screen.

Previous research found that working memory can be negatively impacted by a lack of sleep.

The researchers behind the new study — led by Frida Rångtell, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University in Sweden — sought to find out more about how a poor night's sleep impacts working memory.

One of the aims of this study was to determine whether lack of sleep affects the working memory of men and women differently, "[given] that sleep-wake regulation and its impact on cognitive performance differs between men and women," the team notes.
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