Effects of sleep deprivation on short duration performance measures compared to the Wilkinson auditory vigilance task

Sleep. 1978 Winter;1(2):169-76. doi: 10.1093/sleep/1.2.169.


The effects of one night's total sleep deprivation were examined using the Wilkinson vigilance task and four 10 min duration performance tests. A repeated measures design was used in which eight male subjects experienced one night of sleep loss, the order of sleep loss being balanced across subjects. The four short duration performance tests consisted of choice reaction time, simple reaction time, short-term memory, and a motor task, handwriting. The results confirm the effects of one night's sleep deprivation on the vigilance task and also show that performance on the two reaction time tests was significantly impaired by the loss of sleep, but not at such a high level as for the vigilance. The short-term memory test failed to show any adverse effects of sleep loss and similarly for the handwriting. The experiment shows that two portable and brief (10 min) performance tests are sensitive indices of sleep loss and should be particularly useful for assessing levels of alertness in the field.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Reaction Time
  • Sleep Deprivation*
  • Writing