14. Cognition, Driving, and Sleep

  1. Douglas B. Kirsch MD, FAASM2,3
  1. Kawai Makoto MD

Published Online: 11 OCT 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118764152.ch14

Sleep Medicine in Neurology

Sleep Medicine in Neurology

How to Cite

Makoto, K. (2013) Cognition, Driving, and Sleep, in Sleep Medicine in Neurology (ed D. B. Kirsch), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118764152.ch14

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

  2. 3

    Division of Sleep Neurology, Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

Author Information

  1. Department of Neurology, Methodist Neurological Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 OCT 2013
  2. Published Print: 7 OCT 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444335514

Online ISBN: 9781118764152



  • sleep deprivation;
  • obstructive sleep apnea;
  • cognition;
  • driving;
  • alcohol;
  • attention;
  • sleepiness;
  • executive function


The correlation of sleep and cognition has been investigated through several conditions. Those conditions include acute and chronic sleep deprivation (sleep deprivation), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and driving performance.

Acute sleep deprivation causes a broad spectrum of cognitive problems such as sleepiness, decline in attention, executive function and other cognitive dysfunction.

Chronic sleep deprivation causes dissociation of sleepiness and decline of attention. That is, our perception of sleepiness plateaus after several days of sleep deprivation, whereas our attention continues to worsen over time. OSA also causes a cognitive decline; some portion of this decline may not be reversible.

Driving requires combination of several cognitive functions. Sleep deprivation and OSA are known to affect driving performance and the severity of the impact is similar to what one gets from alcohol.