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A study from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that people become clumsy if they don’t sleep enough. The researchers also concluded that taking a nap after poor quality sleep helped reduce clumsiness.

Many studies have shown how poor sleep can negatively impact our cognitive performance. However, not many have looked into how it can affect physical tasks that require little mental effort, such as walking.

How researchers conducted the experiment

The researchers found that people who sleep poorly experience a change in their gait. The team carried out an experiment where they asked students to walk on a treadmill. They realized that those who had less sleep could not effectively control how they walked.

According to the principal research scientist at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Professor Hermano Krebs, few scientists knew that lack of sleep could affect automatic activities. However, the team found that students who compensated for the lack of sleep could perform better.

Herman suggested that sleep-deprived professionals such as military personnel, healthcare workers, and short workers take frequent naps to compensate for poor sleep. Be believed that they could improve their gaits by regularly scheduled naps.

Past studies show that walking is only automatic

Scientists in the past viewed walking as an automatic activity that requires some cognitive control. However, other studies involving animals showed that walking on treadmills was automatic.

Despite this finding, many scientists argued that the results only apples to quadrupeds. For instance, Professor Krebs has spent decades studying walking to help patients who have had strokes and other diseases that limit their movements using robotics.

Professor Krebs has shown that humans need cognitive control to walk in particular places and avoid obstacles. Moreover, he has uncovered other automatic processes involved in walking. Krebs has also examined how sounds and other stimuli affect walking.

The professor conducted experiments where he asked volunteers to walk on a treadmill. The researchers played music and slowly changed the frequency of the metronome. With time, the volunteers began to walk to the beat.

While conducting this experiment, the researchers would realize that the students performed worse since they had exams and project deadlines. They decided not to quit the investigation and instead looked at how sleep deprivation affected the students’ performance.