Objective: This study examined the effects of total and partial sleep deprivation on subjective symptoms and objective neurocognitive performance, as measured by the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) in a sample of healthy adults.
Method: One-hundred and two, right-handed, healthy participants (between ages 18 and 30 years old) completed three consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory with concurrent continuous polysomnography monitoring. Night 1 served as a baseline night. Prior to Night 2, they were randomly assigned to one of three sleep conditions: undisrupted normal sleep (N = 34), sleep restriction (50% of habitual sleep, N = 37), or total sleep deprivation (N = 31). Participants slept undisturbed on Night 3. ImPACT was administered on three separate occasions.
Results: Sleep loss was associated with increased severity of subjectively reported affective, cognitive, physical, and sleep symptoms. Although objective neurocognitive task scores derived from the ImPACT battery did not corroborate subjective complaints, sleep loss was associated with significant differences on tasks of visual memory, reaction time, and visual motor speed over time.
Conclusions: While self-report measures suggested marked impairments following sleep loss, deficits in neurocognitive performance were observed only on three domains measured with ImPACT. ImPACT may capture subtle changes in neurocognitive performance following sleep loss; however, independent and larger validation studies are needed to determine its sensitivity to acute sleep loss and recovery sleep. Neurocognitive screening batteries may be useful for detecting the effects of more severe or chronic sleep loss under high-stress conditions that mimic high-risk occupations.
Keywords: ImPACT; Neurocognitive Performance; Sleep; Sleep Loss; Subjective Symptoms.
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