Acute versus chronic partial sleep deprivation in middle-aged people: differential effect on performance and sleepiness.

Pierre Philip, Patricia Sagaspe, Mélanie Prague, Patricia Tassi, Aurore Capelli, Bernard Bioulac, Daniel Commenges, Jacques Taillard
Sleep. 2012-07-01; 35(7): 997-1002
DOI: 10.5665/sleep.1968

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Comment in
Sleep. 2012 Jul;35(7):901-2.

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of acute sleep deprivation and chronic
sleep restriction on vigilance, performance, and self-perception of sleepiness.
DESIGN: Habitual night followed by 1 night of total sleep loss (acute sleep
deprivation) or 5 consecutive nights of 4 hr of sleep (chronic sleep restriction)
and recovery night.
PARTICIPANTS: Eighteen healthy middle-aged male participants (age [(± standard
deviation] = 49.7 ± 2.6 yr, range 46-55 yr).
MEASUREMENTS: Multiple sleep latency test trials, Karolinska Sleepiness Scale
scores, simple reaction time test (lapses and 10% fastest reaction times), and
nocturnal polysomnography data were recorded.
RESULTS: Objective and subjective sleepiness increased immediately in response to
sleep restriction. Sleep latencies after the second and third nights of sleep
restriction reached levels equivalent to those observed after acute sleep
deprivation, whereas Karolinska Sleepiness Scale scores did not reach these
levels. Lapse occurrence increased after the second day of sleep restriction and
reached levels equivalent to those observed after acute sleep deprivation. A
statistical model revealed that sleepiness and lapses did not progressively
worsen across days of sleep restriction. Ten percent fastest reaction times
(i.e., optimal alertness) were not affected by acute or chronic sleep
deprivation. Recovery to baseline levels of alertness and performance occurred
after 8-hr recovery night.
CONCLUSIONS: In middle-aged study participants, sleep restriction induced a high
increase in sleep propensity but adaptation to chronic sleep restriction occurred
beyond day 3 of restriction. This sleepiness attenuation was underestimated by
the participants. One recovery night restores daytime sleepiness and cognitive
performance deficits induced by acute or chronic sleep deprivation.


Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus