Sleep Deprivation Reduces Walking Efficiency
Study reveals relationship between sleep and gait control.
Sleep is essential to optimize efficient movement control and performance. To add to our understanding of sleep’s value, new findings show that sleep deprivation can undermine walking efficiency and increase clumsiness, as reported in Scientific Reports (2021; 11 ).
Researchers from MIT in Boston and from Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil conducted a study to analyze the effects of different sleep restriction levels on gait control. Other studies confirm that human postural control is negatively impacted by both acute and chronic sleep deprivation; however, the effect on gait has not been as thoroughly investigated.
Among the 30 college students participating in the study, those with chronically lacked sleep performed worst on a treadmill test. In contrast, those who had less-than-ideal sleep throughout the week, but who slept in on weekends, performed better. Researchers concluded that compensating for sleep loss can be an important strategy for people like shift workers who are chronically lacking sleep.
“The results show that gait is not an automatic process, and that it can be affected by sleep deprivation,” said study author Hermano Igo Krebs, PhD, principal research scientist at MIT. “Ideally, everyone should sleep 8 hours a night. But if we can’t, then we should compensate as much and as regularly as possible.”