A 30-Minute, but Not a 10-Minute Nighttime Nap is Associated with Sleep Inertia

Sleep. 2016 Mar 1;39(3):675-85. doi: 10.5665/sleep.5550.


Study objectives: To assess sleep inertia following 10-min and 30-min naps during a simulated night shift.

Methods: Thirty-one healthy adults (aged 21-35 y; 18 females) participated in a 3-day laboratory study that included one baseline (BL) sleep (22:00-07:00) and one experimental night involving randomization to either: total sleep deprivation (NO-NAP), a 10-min nap (10-NAP) or a 30-min nap (30-NAP). Nap opportunities ended at 04:00. A 3-min psychomotor vigilance task (PVT-B), digit-symbol substitution task (DSST), fatigue scale, sleepiness scale, and self-rated performance scale were undertaken pre-nap (03:00) and at 2, 17, 32, and 47 min post-nap.

Results: The 30-NAP (14.7 ± 5.7 min) had more slow wave sleep than the 10-NAP (0.8 ± 1.5 min; P < 0.001) condition. In the NO-NAP condition, PVT-B performance was worse than pre-nap (4.6 ± 0.3 1/sec) at 47 min post-nap (4.1 ± 0.4 1/sec; P < 0.001). There was no change across time in the 10-NAP condition. In the 30-NAP condition, performance immediately deteriorated from pre-nap (4.3 ± 0.3 1/sec) and was still worse at 47 min post-nap (4.0 ± 0.5 1/sec; P < 0.015). DSST performance deteriorated in the NO-NAP (worse than pre-nap from 17 to 47 min; P < 0.008), did not change in the 10-NAP, and was impaired 2 min post-nap in the 30-NAP condition (P = 0.028). All conditions self-rated performance as better than pre-nap for all post-nap test points (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This study is the first to show that a 10-min (but not a 30-min) nighttime nap had minimal sleep inertia and helped to mitigate short-term performance impairment during a simulated night shift. Self-rated performance did not reflect objective performance following a nap.

Keywords: alertness; fatigue countermeasure; nap sleep; night shift work; psychomotor vigilance task; sleep deprivation; sleep inertia; subjective performance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Self Report
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology
  • Young Adult