Methods of testing for sleepiness [corrected]

Behav Med. 1996 Winter;21(4):171-83. doi: 10.1080/08964289.1996.9933755.


Normal nonrandom fluctuation in daily human performance have been documented for years. Published research reports have shown patterns of workers' errors in reading gas meters, operators' delays in answering calls, drivers' drowsiness, sleepy locomotive engineers' automatic breaking, vehicle crashes, deaths resulting from disease, brief periods of sleep, and sleep latency in structured naps. The authors summarized these data sets and fitted them with a two-peak-per-day cosine curve derived from the population growth function used in chaos theory. Median parameters extracted from the curve fits predicted a sharp peak of sleepiness at 2:30 AM and a secondary peak at 2:30 PM. The shape of the curve was modified by a nonlinear sleep-deprivation factor. The model appeared to be biological rather than behavioral or social because it applied well to disease-related deaths. The authors also review measurement of sleepiness through electroencephalographic monitoring, self-reports, pupillography, and the Multiple Sleep Latency and the Maintenance of Wakefulness Tests.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm* / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Fatigue / diagnosis*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Pupil / physiology
  • Safety
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep* / physiology