Six nights of sleep extension increases regional cerebral oxygenation without modifying cognitive performance at rest or following acute aerobic exercise

J Sleep Res. 2022 Oct;31(5):e13582. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13582. Epub 2022 Mar 9.


Long sleep durations (≥540 min) are associated with poor cognitive performance in ageing adults, but the underlying cause is unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of extended sleep on cognitive performance and cerebral vascular function before and then after aerobic exercise. In all, 12 adults completed 6 nights of 8- (control) and 10+-h (sleep extension) time in bed in a randomised, crossover experiment. Sleep was measured using wrist actigraphy. On the last day of each time in bed protocol, participants performed three bouts of brisk walking. Sustained attention, spatial rotation ability, mental flexibility, and working memory were assessed, while prefrontal oxygen saturation index (ΔTSI) was measured using near-infrared spectroscopy. A two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (time in bed × before/after exercise) was used for statistical analysis. Average sleep duration was longer following sleep extension as compared to control, at a mean (SD) of 551 (16) versus 428 (20) min (p < 0.001). Sleep extension did not alter cognitive performance as compared to control, but increased ΔTSI during tests of spatial rotation ability (main effect for time in bed, p = 0.03), mental flexibility (p = 0.04), and working memory (p < 0.01). Cognitive performance was improved (main effect for exercise, p < 0.05) following brisk walking for all cognitive domains except sustained attention with no interaction with time in bed. In summary, 6 nights of extended time in bed accompanied by long sleep durations does not impair cognitive performance at rest or alter the positive effect of acute aerobic exercise on cognition but may increase frontal cerebral oxygenation during cognitive functioning.

Keywords: cerebrovascular reactivity; cognitive function; near-infrared spectroscopy; oxygenation; sleep; sleep duration; tissue saturation index.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy*
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Cognition
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Sleep*