Tricking the brain into believing that you have had a good night's sleep, even when you have not, can make it work better, a new study conducted by Colorado College researchers reveals.
The researchers recruited a group of undergraduate students and asked them to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how well they had slept the night before. They were also given a fictional 'background information' on the study, where they were told that around 20 to 25 percent of an adult's sleep time consisted of REM sleep and a lower rate of REM led to performance on learning tests.
The students were then attached with sensors which the researchers said would be able to measure their pulse, heart rate and brainwave frequency and calculate their sleep quality from the night before.
Some students were randomly selected and told that their quality of sleep had been above average last night with 28.7 percent REM sleep while the remaining were told they had a poor night of sleep with 16.2 percent of REM sleep. On being asked to undertake a test that assessed auditory attention and speed of processing, the researchers found that those who had been told they had a good sleep performed better, regardless of whether they had slept well or not, compared to those who were told they had poor sleep.
"In these experiments, cognitive functioning appeared to be mediated by placebo information, as it was dependent on the assigned sleep quality told to the participants as opposed to their actual self-reported sleep quality", lead researchers Christina Draganich and Kristi Erdal wrote in their report.