Saturday November 23, 2019

Hot Dorm Rooms Could Affect Students’ Memory

Extreme heat exposure is the biggest killer of all climate phenomena in the United States, killing 7,000 people between 1999 and 2010

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FILE - Students surf the internet in their dorm room at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., April 24. (VOA)

Is your dorm room stifling hot? That might impact your memory.

New research shows that heat can affect even healthy young adults intellectually, with worse cognitive performance observed in students who slept in a non-air-conditioned room during a heat wave.

Researchers from Harvard University recruited 24 students who slept with air-conditioning and 20 who slept in rooms without AC before, during and after a Boston-area heat wave.

They recorded temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide and noise in each bedroom throughout the study.

The indoor temperature of the non-air-conditioned dorm averaged 26.3 C (79.3 F) compared with 21.4 C (70.5 F) in the dorm with air-conditioning.

Each participant wore an activity monitor to measure heart rate, perspiration and sleep quality. When the students woke up each morning, they were tested for how quickly and accurately they completed two cognitive tests that measured memory and reaction.

Researchers also noted how much water and caffeine the students consumed, and how long they spent outdoors each day.

After 12 days, researchers were surprised by the data.

The dorms without AC were louder at night because of fan and street noise, which could have disrupted sleep.
The dorms without AC were louder at night because of fan and street noise, which could have disrupted sleep. Pixabay

“We found very significant effect of detrimental cognitive function among those students that didn’t have air-conditioning during this heat wave period,” said lead author Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The students who didn’t have air-conditioning performed significantly worse on the basic cognitive tests. In particular, going without AC during a heat wave hurt their reaction time when they had to make quick judgments.

“Their study really demonstrated that exposure to heat can have all these potential effects on people’s daily activities,” said Daisy Chang, an organizational psychologist at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

“A whole host of reasons could potentially explain this exposure effect,” Chang noted. “It’s not necessarily directly exposure to heat. [The heat] could have affected their sleep quality so they’re less rested, they have less energy, or mental resources, or ability to focus.”

Also Read: Music lessons boost children’s memory and grades

The dorms without AC were louder at night because of fan and street noise, which could have disrupted sleep.

And while air-conditioned rooms can hold higher levels of carbon dioxide, which can have a negative impact on cognition, the students slept better in a cooler room.

“We find that heatwaves are impacting us all,” Cedeno said. “These … extend to those like the young and healthy university students. And that we find significant effects on the way they think – their cognitive functions.”

Extreme heat exposure is the biggest killer of all climate phenomena in the United States, killing 7,000 people between 1999 and 2010. Previous research focused on how hot weather affects at-risk populations like the elderly and the very young. And 2016 was the hottest year on record for the past 200 years. (VOA)

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Poor Sleep Quality Associated with Reduced Memory in Senior Citizens

The researchers said regular sleep was important for best cognitive performance at any age

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Photo: www.myhousecallmd.com

Senior citizens, please take note. Lower sleep quality and variability in night sleep time may adversely affect your ability to recall past events, says a study.

The study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, underscores the importance of sleep in maintaining good cognitive functioning.

The study divided participants in two categories: younger adults (18-37 years) and older adults (56-76 years). The participants were given wearable accelerometers to measure sleep duration and quality over seven nights.

“The night-to-night variability in older adults had a major impact on their performance in tests aimed at evaluating episodic memory,” said Audrey Duarte, Associate Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the US.

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“The more control older adults think they have, the younger they feel,” said study co-author Shevaun Neupert, Professor at North Carolina State University in the US. Pixabay

Stating that the association between sleep and memory has been known, Duarte said this study underlined the connection particularly among older adults and black participants.

Also Read: India Sold Over 204 mn WiFi Devices in 2018: Report

“We wanted to know how sleep affected memory, how well they remembered things and how well their brains functioned depending on how well they slept,” said Emily Hokett, a Ph.D student at the institute.

The researchers said regular sleep was important for best cognitive performance at any age. (IANS)