On average doctors suggest adults receive an adequate amount of sleep, around seven to nine hours, but if your norm is anything below the minimum of seven hours, experts believe it can influence how you perform your daily activities.

In a study conducted at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, experts collected and assessed date from visual search tasks from 12 participants over a one month study. The first week each individual was instructed to sleep 10 to 12 hours per night to ensure they were well-rested. The following three weeks, each individual's sleep was reduced and they were instructed to sleep 5.6 hours per night. In addition, they were required sleep while operating on a 28-hour cycle, parallel to the feeling of jet lag.

Finally experts gave the participants visual search tasks to determine how quickly they would be able to find important information, and also how accurate they were in identifying it.

Jeanne F. Duffy, PhD, MBA, senior author on this study and associate neuroscientist at BWH said, "This research provides valuable information for workers, and their employers, who perform these types of visual search tasks during the night shift, because they will do it much more slowly than when they are working during the day. The longer someone is awake, the more the ability to perform a task, in this case a visual search, is hindered, and this impact of being awake is even stronger at night."

Although the precision of each individual was moderately consistent, they demonstrated a reduced ability to identify relevant information as the weeks continued. According to Duffy, The self-ratings of sleepiness vaguely worsened in the second and third weeks of the study schedule. However, results displayed participants were performing visual tasks considerable slower compared to the first week, which suggest that one's perceptions is reduced depending on his or her level of exhaustion, which in turns affects the ability for one to perform.

The study was published in the Journal of Vision.