Background and purpose: Insufficient sleep can adversely affect a variety of cognitive abilities, ranging from simple alertness to higher-order executive functions. Although the effects of sleep loss on mood and cognition are well documented, there have been no controlled studies examining its effects on perceived emotional intelligence (EQ) and constructive thinking, abilities that require the integration of affect and cognition and are central to adaptive functioning.
Patients and methods: Twenty-six healthy volunteers completed the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQi) and the Constructive Thinking Inventory (CTI) at rested baseline and again after 55.5 and 58 h of continuous wakefulness, respectively.
Results: Relative to baseline, sleep deprivation was associated with lower scores on Total EQ (decreased global emotional intelligence), Intrapersonal functioning (reduced self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, and self-actualization), Interpersonal functioning (reduced empathy toward others and quality of interpersonal relationships), Stress Management skills (reduced impulse control and difficulty with delay of gratification), and Behavioral Coping (reduced positive thinking and action orientation). Esoteric Thinking (greater reliance on formal superstitions and magical thinking processes) was increased.
Conclusions: These findings are consistent with the neurobehavioral model suggesting that sleep loss produces temporary changes in cerebral metabolism, cognition, emotion, and behavior consistent with mild prefrontal lobe dysfunction.