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College student’s sleep study taps subjects’ mindset

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — You’ve likely heard of the placebo effect, an outcome that cannot be attributed to a specific treatment or therapy but rather is caused by a patient’s mindset alone. As it turns out, the force behind the placebo effect — namely our beliefs and perceptions — might be one of the more powerful health tools in our arsenal.

A study by a Colorado College senior found that students who were told they’d gotten a good night’s sleep, even if they hadn’t, performed better on tests that assessed attention and memory skills than students who were told they’d slept poorly, even if they were well rested. Christina Draganich based her results on two experiments with 164 students, and a paper about the study, “Placebo Sleep Affects Cognitive Functioning,” was published this year in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

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