Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Free Content Sleep loss affects vigilance: effects of chronic insomnia and sleep therapy

Download Article:

You have access to the full text article on a website external to Ingenta Connect.

Please click here to view this article on Wiley Online Library.

You may be required to register and activate access on Wiley Online Library before you can obtain the full text. If you have any queries please visit Wiley Online Library


Although complaints of impaired daytime functioning are essential to the diagnosis of primary insomnia, objective evidence for cognitive dysfunction has been hard to establish. A prerequisite for understanding the neurocognitive consequences of primary insomnia is to establish task paradigms that robustly differentiate insomniacs from well-sleeping subjects. We hypothesized that the decline in performance that typically occurs with an increasing cognitive demand would provide a more sensitive measure than performance on a single task version. The hypothesis was tested, first, by assessing the performance on two vigilance tasks with different cognitive demands in 25 elderly patients with primary insomnia and 13 healthy well-sleeping age-matched subjects. Secondly, we investigated the performance response to sleep therapy using a waiting-list controlled design. Sleep therapy consisted of a multi-component intervention including sleep restriction, cognitive behavioral therapy, bright-light therapy, structured physical activity and body temperature manipulations. The results show that insomniacs differed markedly from controls in their reaction times across tasks with different cognitive demands: patients responded faster on the ‘simple’ vigilance task, yet slower on the ‘complex’ vigilance task. Sleep therapy effectively restored normal performance: patients became significantly slower on the ‘simple’ task and faster on the ‘complex’ task, returning to the performance levels of control subjects. These findings indicate that the performance decline associated with increasing cognitive demands is possibly the first sensitive and robust measure of the neurocognitive sequelae of insomnia. We suggest that future studies on cognition in primary insomnia should apply a design that varies task demands.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: arousal; attention; insomnia; sleep disorders; task complexity; vigilance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Clinical Neurophysiology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: September 1, 2008

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more