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Can't count, don't worry, it's sleep inertia

A new study says that it is harder to count and think clearly right after waking from a good night's sleep.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 17:56 IST

It is widely believed that a good night's sleep helpsimprove memory and makes a person more alert.

However, a new study carried out by the University of Colorado says that it is harder to count and think clearly right after waking from a good night's sleep than after staying up all night.

The study shows that people wakingup after eight hours of sound sleep have more trouble thinking than those who are deprived of sleep for more than 24 hours.

Tests showed that people had diminished short-term memory, counting skills and cognitive abilities during the groggy period after waking up. This phenomenon isknown as sleep inertia, said university professor Kenneth Wright, the study's lead author.

"For a short period, at least, the effects of sleep inertia may be as bad as or even worse than being legally drunk," Wright said.

The study has implications for medical workers and fire-fighters who often get roused from their sleep to drive to the scene of an emergency, putting themselves and others at risk, Wright said.

The most severe impairments from sleep inertia occurred within the first three minutes after waking up, according to the study published in the January 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The most severe effects generally dissipated after the first 10 minutes but sleep inertia's effects are often detectable for up to two hours, the study said.

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 13:24 IST