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Sleep Deprivation Reduces Walking Efficiency

Study reveals relationship between sleep and gait control.

Man with sleep deprivation

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 [21101]).

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.”

See also: You Are How You Sleep: The Cost of Sleep Deprivation

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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