Effect of total sleep deprivation on reaction time and waking EEG activity in man

Sleep. 1995 Jun;18(5):346-54.


Nine paid volunteers were sleep deprived over a period of 40 hours. Every 2 hours during total sleep deprivation (TSD) and after recovery sleep, oral temperature (OT), reaction time (RT) in a vigilance task and electroencephalogram (EEG) with eyes open and closed (C3, C4, T3 and T4) were recorded. Ten artifact-free samples from each condition were Fourier transformed. Absolute power was calculated for six bands. Analyses of variance with deprivation and time of day as factors showed the following significant results: 1) TSD induced an increase in RT, of theta power in all derivations, of beta power in both centrals and a decrease of alpha power with eyes closed; OT was not affected. 2) All bands showed a peak of power at 1800 hours, 2 hours in advance of the OT acrophase at 2000 hours. All variables recovered baseline values after 1 night of sleep. Significant linear correlations of hours of wakefulness with EEG and RT, and of EEG power with OT and RT, were observed. The present findings show a linear increase in EEG power and RT with TSD, and a diurnal oscillation of EEG power, which is independent of TSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beta Rhythm
  • Body Temperature
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time*
  • Sleep Deprivation*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Wakefulness*