Sleep is key to our cognitive health as, quoting Scientific American, it “serves to reenergize the body’s cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory. It even plays vital roles in regulating mood, appetite and libido. Sleeping is an integral part of our life, and as research shows, it is incredibly complex.”
Large studies, like the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), have in fact consistently found an inverted U-shaped association between sleep quality and cognition, in which those who slept 4 hours or less and 10 hours or more had worse cognition and faster decline in global cognitive function and memory.
Every time one of our users logs into our virtual reality brain training app, Enhance VR, they report on the number of hours they had slept the previous night, and their mood on a 5-point scale. Our team at Virtuleap has started taking a look under the hood in the gameplay data of 3,361 VR brain trainers in order to see what kind of similar relationships we can start to identify between quality of sleep and mood with cognitive performance.
Check out some of our early findings:
- We found the same inverted U-shaped association in those who sleep less than 7 hours across all cognitive categories, except spatial orientation, in which sleep and mood don’t appear to have any effect!
- Players that sleep 7–8 hours generally perform better on attention and memory games, in particular.
- Interestingly, those who reported being sad perform very poorly on flexibility and problem-solving games, while performing very well on attention, motor skill, information processing, memory, and spatial orientation games.