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Sleep. 2019 May 1;42(5). pii: zsz032. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsz032.

Chronic sleep restriction greatly magnifies performance decrements immediately after awakening.

Author information

1
Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.
2
Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
3
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.
4
Sentara Health Care, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES:

Sleep inertia, subjectively experienced as grogginess felt upon awakening, causes cognitive performance impairments that can require up to 1.5 hr to dissipate. It is unknown, however, how chronic sleep restriction (CSR) influences the magnitude and duration of sleep inertia-related performance deficits.

METHODS:

Twenty-six healthy participants were enrolled in one of two in-laboratory sleep restriction protocols (one 32 day randomized control and one 38 day protocol) that separated the influence of sleep and circadian effects on performance using different "day"-lengths (20 and 42.85 hr day-lengths, respectively). The sleep opportunity per 24 hr day was the equivalent of 5.6 hr for each CSR condition and 8 hr for the Control condition. Participant's performance and subjective sleepiness were assessed within ~2 min after electroencephalogram-verified awakening and every 10 min thereafter for 70 min to evaluate performance and subjective sleepiness during sleep inertia.

RESULTS:

Performance within 2 min of awakening was ~10% worse in CSR conditions compared with Control and remained impaired across the dissipation of sleep inertia in the CSR conditions when compared with Control. These impairments in performance during sleep inertia occurred after only chronic exposure to sleep restriction and were even worse after awakenings during the biological nighttime. Interestingly, despite differences in objective performance, there were no significant differences between groups in subjective levels of sleepiness during sleep inertia.

CONCLUSIONS:

CSR worsens sleep inertia, especially for awakenings during the biological night. These findings are important for individuals needing to perform tasks quickly upon awakening, particularly those who obtain less than 6 hr of sleep on a nightly basis.

CLINICAL TRIAL:

The study "Sleep Duration Required to Restore Performance During Chronic Sleep Restriction" was registered as a clinical trial (#NCT01581125) at clinicaltrials.gov (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01581125?term=NCT01581125.&rank=1).

KEYWORDS:

circadian; forced desynchrony; insufficient sleep; sleep inertia; subjective sleepiness

PMID:
30722039
PMCID:
PMC6519907
[Available on 2020-02-05]
DOI:
10.1093/sleep/zsz032

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