The effect of sleep loss on next day effort
The study had two primary objectives. The first was to determine whether sleep loss results in a preference for tasks demanding minimal effort. The second was to evaluate the quality of performance when participants, under conditions of sleep loss, have control over task demands. In experiment 1, using a repeated-measures design, 50 undergraduate college students were evaluated, following one night of no sleep loss and one night of sleep loss. The Math Effort Task (MET) presented addition problems via computer. Participants were able to select additions at one of five levels of difficulty. Less-demanding problems were selected and more additions were solved correctly when the participants were subject to sleep loss. In experiment 2, 58 undergraduate college students were randomly assigned to a no sleep deprivation or a sleep deprivation condition. Sleep-deprived participants selected less-demanding problems on the MET. Percentage correct on the MET was equivalent for both the non-sleep-deprived and sleep-deprived groups. On a task selection question, the sleep-deprived participants also selected significantly less-demanding non-academic tasks. Increased sleepiness, fatigue, and reaction time were associated with the selection of less difficult tasks. Both groups of participants reported equivalent effort expenditures; sleep-deprived participants did not perceive a reduction in effort. These studies demonstrate that sleep loss results in the choice of low-effort behavior that helps maintain accurate responding.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Baruch College and 2: Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, 3: Graduate Center, City University of New York, 4: Planned Parenthood of New York City, and 5: Young Adult Institute, New York, NY, USA
Publication date: June 1, 2003