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Didn’t get a good night’s sleep? Just 20 minutes of moderate exercises can boost your brain, according to a study.
The study, led by the University of Portsmouth researchers explored how sleep, oxygen levels, and exercise affect our ability to perform mental tasks.
The team found that cognitive performance improves during a bout of moderate intensity exercise, regardless of a person's sleep status or oxygen levels.
"We know from existing research that exercise improves or maintains our cognitive performance, even when oxygen levels are reduced. But this is the first study to suggest it also improves cognitive performance after both full and partial sleep deprivation, and when combined with hypoxia,” said Joe Costello, from the University's School of Sport, Health & Exercise Science (SHES).
"The findings significantly add to what we know about the relationship between exercise and these stressors, and help to reinforce the message that movement is medicine for the body and the brain," he added.
The study, published in Physiology and Behaviour, involved two experiments, each with 12 participants (24 in total).
The first looked at the impact of partial sleep deprivation on a person's cognitive performance, and the second examined the impact of total sleep deprivation and hypoxia.
In both, all participants experienced an improvement in cognitive performance after a bout of 20 minutes of cycling.
"Because we were looking at exercise as a positive intervention, we decided to use a moderate intensity programme as recommended in existing literature," added Costello.
"If the exercise was any longer or harder it may have amplified the negative results and became a stressor itself."
In the first experiment, individuals were only allowed five hours of sleep a night, over three days.
Each morning they would be given seven tasks to perform at rest, and then while cycling. They were also asked to rate their sleepiness and mood before completing the tasks.
The results showed the effects of three nights of partial sleep on executive functions were inconsistent.
The paper says an explanation for this could be that some people are more resilient to a mild or moderate sleep deficit.
However, regardless of sleep status, moderate-intensity exercise improved performance across all the tasks.
In the second experiment, participants went an entire night without sleep and were then put in a hypoxic (low levels of oxygen) environment at the University's Extreme Environment Labs.
Despite oxygen levels being lowered, exercise continued to improve cognitive performance.
Source - IANS