The Biological Clock Does Not Influence Task Performance, Study Suggests

The Biological Clock Does Not Influence Task Performance

Psychology News – A study reveals how sleepiness negatively affects the way a task is performed. It denies the established belief that our biological clock determines the efficiency of task performance.

A news study refutes the long-held belief that the efficiency of task performance depends on the biological clock. Instead, it links the timing of peak performance to the time when humans are least sleepy.

Researchers at Washington State University tested participants’ task performance with three different cognitive tests. These assessed their ability to stay focused and process information and how sleepy they were.

The participants were put in a simulated day or night shift schedule for three days. This step helped unlink the effects of the biological clock on their task performance and sleep schedule.

After completing the shifts, they were kept awake for 24 hours in a semi-reclined position, given snacks every hour, and were kept under constant light exposure and room temperature. The researchers also drew blood samples from participants to determine levels of melatonin, a hormone that reflects a body’s biological clock. This step helped to study how external influences generated internal biological rhythms in humans.

Every two hours, the participants also completed the three distinct cognitive tests. The researchers also tested the participants and other real-life shift workers with cognitive tests to confirm their findings, which were published in Clocks & Sleep.

The findings show that sleepiness decreases the efficiency of task performance, irrespective of the time of the day or the biological clock.

The results also claim that, even if the biological clock determines the best time of the day for performance—the peak timing of performance varies from individual to individual, depending on how sleepy or awake that person is.

The researchers are confident that findings of studies like this can help people optimize their cognitive tasks and performance habits at work and home. They can increase their productivity and the quality of critical tasks by performing them when they feel the least sleepy.

One of the co authors, Amanda Hudson, elaborated, “Given that shift work can make workers particularly sleepy, knowing the optimal timing for different tasks is especially important in shift work settings.”

To Know More You May Relate To

Muck, R. A., Hudson, A. N., Honn, K. A., Gaddameedhi, S., & Van Dongen, H. (2022). Working around the Clock: Is a Person’s Endogenous Circadian Timing for Optimal Neurobehavioral Functioning Inherently Task-Dependent?. Clocks & sleep, 4(1), 23–36. https://doi.org/10.3390/clockssleep4010005

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