Postural control after a night without sleep

Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(12):2520-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.03.033. Epub 2006 May 9.


The present study analysed the efficiency of postural control after 12 h of nocturnal forced wakefulness using Romberg's test comprising 1 min of recording with eyes-open and 1 min of recording with eyes-closed, with a 1 min break between the two sessions. Our aim was to see if the decreased postural control efficiency after a sleepless night was unspecific (in both eyes-closed and eyes-open conditions) or selective (in only one of the conditions). A total of 55 students spent a whole night awake at our laboratory and were tested at 22:00 and 08:00 h. In general, the results showed that postural sway increased, performing the recording from eyes-open to eyes-closed condition. The statokinesigram length (SL or efficiency of the postural system) increased after the sleepless night, while in eyes-open condition, the length in function of surface (LFS or accuracy of postural control) and Romberg's index (or contribution of vision to maintain posture) significantly decreased. This could indicate that after a night without sleep, there is a slower elaboration of visual inputs in the postural control process. On the basis of these results, the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance were considered from a neuropsychological point of view.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance