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J Sleep Res. 2019 Oct 20:e12919. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12919. [Epub ahead of print]

Work by day and sleep by night, do not sleep too little or too much: Effects of sleep duration, time of day and circadian synchrony on flanker-task performance in internet brain-game users from teens to advanced age.

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University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Research elucidating the effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on cognitive performance is advancing, yet many important questions remain. Using flanker-task performance scores from a large internet sample (N = 48,881) with repeated measures of cognitive performance and linked prior-night self-reported sleep duration, we analysed the relationship between sleep duration, time of day of task performance, and chronotype synchrony with performance in participants aged 15-80 years. Results indicate a performance peak at 7 hr habitual sleep duration, and point to a variable effect of deviation from habitual sleep duration depending on users' habitual sleep duration and age. Time-of-day effects were notable for a steady decline in performance up until 01:00 hours-02:00 hours for the group as a whole, which was accounted for by nighttime deterioration on trials requiring inhibitory executive functioning, particularly in older subjects. Analyses did not demonstrate an advantage for playing in synchrony with self-identified chronotype. Results strengthen findings indicating an inverted U-shaped relationship between sleep duration and cognitive performance across a broad spectrum of age groups. These findings underscore the importance of daytime task performance for tasks requiring inhibitory function, especially in elderly people. Findings highlight the utility of large-scale internet data in contributing to sleep and circadian science.


age; chronotype; cognition; sleep; synchrony


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