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Physiol Behav. 2006 Jan 30;87(1):177-84. Epub 2005 Nov 21.

EEG spectral power and cognitive performance during sleep inertia: the effect of normal sleep duration and partial sleep deprivation.

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Centre d'Etudes de Physiologie Appliquée, 21, rue Becquerel, 67087 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


Sleep inertia (SI) is a transient period occurring immediately after awakening, usually characterized by performance decrement. When sleep is sufficient, SI is moderate, and produces few or no deficit. When it is associated with prior sleep deprivation, SI shows dose-dependent negative effects on cognitive performance, especially when subjects have been awaken in slow wave sleep (SWS). In the present study, spectral analysis was applied during the last 10 min before and the first 10 min after awakening, and during 1 h after awakening while subjects performed the Stroop test. Seventeen subjects were divided into a Control group who slept 8 h, and a Sleep Deprived group who slept only 2 h. The results show that performance was normal in the Control group, whereas reaction time was increased during the first half hour and error level during the second half hour in the Sleep Deprived group. Spectral analysis applied on the waking EEG during the whole test session showed that alpha activity was increased in both groups, but theta power only in the Sleep Deprived group. There was a high positive correlation in sleep deprived subjects between delta power during the last 10 min of sleep and subsequent performance decrement in speed and accuracy. Comparison of individual records showed a high positive correlation between spectral power before and after awakening in the Control group (generally in the sense of an increased frequency band), but no correlation was found in the Sleep Deprived group who exhibited a rather disorganized pattern. We discuss these results in terms of incoherence in the EEG continuity during sleep offset after prior sleep loss, which could partly account for the performance decrement observed during SI in sleep deprived subjects.

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