The effects of sleep deprivation on divergent thinking and attention processes

J Sleep Res. 1992 Dec;1(4):223-230. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.1992.tb00043.x.


Twelve male undergraduate students were deprived of sleep for one night and were tested with a series of cognitive tasks. Their performance was compared to the performance of thirteen control subjects. Two hourly tasks and three occasional tasks were administered in order to examine cognitive performance following sleep loss. In an attempt to replicate the findings of Horne (1988a), the figural form of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking was administered. To explore the effects of short-term sleep deprivation on attention, the following tasks were also administered: a working memory task, a trail-making task, a vowel/consonant discrimination task, and a letter recognition task. Results of the Torrance test, trail-making task and letter recognition task revealed decreases in cognitive abilities following sleep loss, although all tasks required less than 10 minutes to administer. The results of this study suggest that cognitive measures following sleep deprivation have not been adequately explored. Results support the hypothesis that sleep serves a function of cognitive restitution, particularly in the maintenance of attentional mechanisms.