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Sleep. 2019 May 1;42(5). pii: zsz037. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsz037.

Differential effects of split and continuous sleep on neurobehavioral function and glucose tolerance in sleep-restricted adolescents.

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Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.



Many adolescents are exposed to sleep restriction on school nights. We assessed how different apportionment of restricted sleep (continuous vs. split sleep) influences neurobehavioral function and glucose levels.


Adolescents, aged 15-19 years, were evaluated in a dormitory setting using a parallel-group design. Following two baseline nights of 9-hour time-in-bed (TIB), participants underwent either 5 nights of continuous 6.5-h TIB (n = 29) or 5-hour nocturnal TIB with a 1.5-hour afternoon nap (n = 29). After two recovery nights of 9-hour TIB, participants were sleep restricted for another three nights. Sleep was assessed using polysomnography (PSG). Cognitive performance and mood were evaluated three times per day. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were conducted on mornings after baseline sleep, recovery sleep, and the third day of each sleep restriction cycle.


The split sleep group had fewer vigilance lapses, better working memory and executive function, faster processing speed, lower level of subjective sleepiness, and more positive mood, even though PSG-verified total sleep time was less than the continuous sleep group. However, vigilance in both sleep-restricted groups was inferior to adolescents in a prior sample given 9-hour nocturnal TIB. During both cycles of sleep restriction, blood glucose during the OGTT increased by a greater amount in the split sleep schedule compared with persons receiving 6.5-hour continuous sleep.


In adolescents, modest multinight sleep restriction had divergent negative effects on cognitive performance and glucose levels depending on how the restricted sleep was apportioned. They are best advised to obtain the recommended amount of nocturnal sleep.



adolescents; cognition; continuous sleep; glucose tolerance; partial sleep deprivation; sleep restriction; split sleep; vigilance

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