Have you gotten enough sleep lately? Well pull out that cot, because according to a new study, sleep deprived people may sound drunk.
You may sound like your speech is tired or slurred, but experts state that those kind of descriptions aren’t quite accurate. Lack of sleep alters the brain in such a way that it affects how you speak.
“Slurred speech is an extreme form of unclearly articulated speech,” lead author Suzanne Boyce told Discovery News.
“The differences we pick up are much less extreme, but they go in the same direction,” added Boyce, a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati. “We’d call it ‘faintly blurred,’ rather than ‘slurred,’ speech.”
Boyce and her team of researchers found that the difference between people who are lacking sleep and those with a good night’s sleep are comparable between conversational and “clear” speakers.
“Clear” speakers are those that over-emphasize syllables and words, kind of like when you are talking to someone that is hard of hearing or when you are talking to someone that doesn’t speak the same language.
“The researchers documented these changes and then applied the same analysis to recordings of test subjects who read sentences aloud and were asked to give driving directions approximately 10 hours since last sleep, then 34 and, finally, 58 hours.”
The people that were sleep-deprived slowly lost their ability to articulate and provide landmarks in their directions.
This research may be used in the future to train 911 operators, communications professionals and therapists who work with people that are hearing impaired.
“These findings are significant because of their potential applicability,” said Samuel Deadwyler, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest.
“This could benefit patients suffering from narcolepsy and other serious sleep disorders,” he said, “but it also has applicability to shift workers, the military and many other occupations where sleep is often limited, yet cognitive demand remains high.”
So, according to this study, if someone has gone so long without sleep, they appear to be drunk. Hmm, how are we supposed to tell who is drunk and who is just really tired? I guess by the stinky stale beer smell, right?