Sleep latency testing as a time course measure of state arousal


Michael H. Bonnet, Dayton Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4100 W. Third Street, Dayton, OH 45428, UK. Tel.: (937) 267 3910; fax: (937) 267 3910; e-mail:


The purpose of this study was to determine how long the effects of a brief period of physiological arousal persisted using repeated sleep latency testing and measurement of heart rate. Thirteen normal sleeping young adults spent two non-consecutive nights and the following days in the laboratory. On each day, subjects had five sleep latency measurements – at 09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 10:30, and 11:00 hours. The 09:00 test was a premanipulation baseline. Following this nap, subjects either walked for 5 min (on one day) or rested in bed for 10 min (on another day) prior to the 09:30 hours sleep latency test. Significant increases in sleep latency were found at 09:30, 10:00, and 11:00 hours following the single 5-min walk as compared with resting in bed (mean sleep latency after the walk was 11.7 min compared with 7.1 min for the resting condition). Heart rate was significantly higher throughout all of the postmanipulation naps following the walk. The elevated sleep latency is probably secondary to the changes in underlying physiological arousal as measured in this study by heart rate.