A new study shows that sleep deprivation can impair what’s known as “selective attention,” or the ability to focus on specific information when other things are occurring at the same time, reports Live Science.
In the study, the researchers wanted to see how missing an entire night of sleep would affect this ability.
To do so, they divided the participants into two groups — a control group of 10 people who were instructed to sleep “as usual,” and a sleep-deprivation group of eight people who did not sleep for 24 hours. Then, the participants were asked to listen to two different stories at the same time, each played in a different ear. The stories had different narrators and content. While the stories played, the researchers measured the participants’ brain activity.
The participants were told that their goal was to selectively pay attention to just one of the stories. The researchers found that the people in the control group had a much easier time paying attention to one of the stories than the people in the sleep-deprivation group did.