Study objective: To evaluate the effects of acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction on vigilance, performance, and self-perception of sleepiness.
Design: Habitual night followed by 1 night of total sleep loss (acute sleep deprivation) or 5 consecutive nights of 4 hr of sleep (chronic sleep restriction) and recovery night.
Participants: Eighteen healthy middle-aged male participants (age [(± standard deviation] = 49.7 ± 2.6 yr, range 46-55 yr).
Measurements: Multiple sleep latency test trials, Karolinska Sleepiness Scale scores, simple reaction time test (lapses and 10% fastest reaction times), and nocturnal polysomnography data were recorded.
Results: Objective and subjective sleepiness increased immediately in response to sleep restriction. Sleep latencies after the second and third nights of sleep restriction reached levels equivalent to those observed after acute sleep deprivation, whereas Karolinska Sleepiness Scale scores did not reach these levels. Lapse occurrence increased after the second day of sleep restriction and reached levels equivalent to those observed after acute sleep deprivation. A statistical model revealed that sleepiness and lapses did not progressively worsen across days of sleep restriction. Ten percent fastest reaction times (i.e., optimal alertness) were not affected by acute or chronic sleep deprivation. Recovery to baseline levels of alertness and performance occurred after 8-hr recovery night.
Conclusions: In middle-aged study participants, sleep restriction induced a high increase in sleep propensity but adaptation to chronic sleep restriction occurred beyond day 3 of restriction. This sleepiness attenuation was underestimated by the participants. One recovery night restores daytime sleepiness and cognitive performance deficits induced by acute or chronic sleep deprivation.
Citation: Philip P; Sagaspe P; Prague M; Tassi P; Capelli A; Bioulac B; Commenges D; Taillard J. Acute versus chronic partial sleep deprivation in middle-aged people: differential effect on performance and sleepiness. SLEEP 2012;35(7):997-1002.
Keywords: Acute and chronic sleep deprivation; cognitive performance; sleepiness.