Measuring individual vulnerability to sleep loss—the CHICa scale
The aim of this project was to construct a psychometrically satisfying scale to describe subjective reactions to sleep deprivation. First, on the basis of a literature review, a list of items was generated which reflected the negatively affected mood and reduced wellbeing associated
with sleep loss. Additionally, psychology students were asked to describe their cognitive and emotional symptoms following a night with curtailed sleep. As a result, 69 items were included in the experimental set. University students (n = 102, females, mean age 22.5 ± 1.9 years)
completed the form several times during 1 week in June (while preparing for examinations) and on a free day in September; a total of 460 forms were collected. The final, 26‐item version of the scale was validated in a sleep deficit experiment lasting 1 week, conducted with
25 female participants (mean age 23.4 ± 1.9 years). Factor analysis showed 71.7% of total variance explained by four components: impaired thermoregulation (C for cold), disrupted appetite (H for hunger), affective problems (I for irritability) and lowered level of cognitive
functioning (Ca for cognitive attenuation). A Polish version of the CHICa scale showed satisfactory psychometric properties. Cronbach's alpha of the subscales were between 0.90 and 0.95. All four subscales exhibited a significant increase with an experimental 3‐h daily sleep restriction
over a period of 1 week; cognitive attenuation was the most symptomatic. Cognitive problems (reduced concentration, comprehension and accuracy) and a lack of energy seem to be the most specific subjective manifestations of the chronic sleep deficit state. CHICa may be helpful in research
on inter‐and intra‐individual differences and on the efficacy of various counteractive treatments for the consequences of sleep deprivation.