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Free Content Nocturnal sustained attention during sleep deprivation can be predicted by specific periods of subjective daytime alertness in normal young humans

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In our 24-h society, nocturnal sleep-related accidents are common. Because all individuals are not equal in their responses to sleep loss, it is very important to identify predictors of vulnerability to sleep deprivation in normal subjects. We investigated the performance of a cognitive test of sustained attention, electroencephalogram theta/alpha power, subjective sleepiness, and two circadian markers (core temperature and melatonin) in 18 healthy men (nine morning types and nine evening types, 21.4 ± 1.9 years) during a 36-h sleep deprivation in a constant routine protocol. Sleep need (self-reported) and baseline sleep structure were also investigated. Nighttime performance impairment was defined as the difference between the mean nocturnal number of lapses (00:00–19:30 hours) and the mean diurnal number of lapses (07:30–20:30 hours) expressed as a percentage. Feeling fully alert in the morning just after awakening and/or sleepy in early afternoon were the only two factors (Multiple R > 0.80, >60% of explained variance) which better predicted the decrease in performances of nocturnal operational tasks requiring sustained attention.

Keywords: inter-individual differences; sleep deprivation; sustained attention performance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: INSERM U657, Département de Pharmacologie, Université Victor Segalen-Bordeaux 2, CHU de Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2: Service de Radiopharmacie, Hôpital Neuro-cardiologique, Lyon cedex 03, France 3: Clinique du sommeil, CHU de Bordeaux

Publication date: March 1, 2006


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