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Keywords:

  • affect;
  • emotion;
  • neurobehavioral outcomes;
  • sleep deprivation;
  • sleepiness;
  • vigilance

Summary

This pilot study examined the relationships between the effects of sleep deprivation on subjective and objective measures of sleepiness and affect, and psychomotor vigilance performance. Following an adaptation night in the laboratory, healthy young adults were randomly assigned to either a night of total sleep deprivation (SD group; n = 15) or to a night of normal sleep (non-SD group; n = 14) under controlled laboratory conditions. The following day, subjective reports of mood and sleepiness, objective sleepiness (Multiple Sleep Latency Test and spontaneous oscillations in pupil diameter, PUI), affective reactivity/regulation (pupil dilation responses to emotional pictures), and psychomotor vigilance performance (PVT) were measured. Sleep deprivation had a significant impact on all three domains (affect, sleepiness, and vigilance), with significant group differences for eight of the nine outcome measures. Exploratory factor analyses performed across the entire sample and within the SD group alone revealed that the outcomes clustered on three orthogonal dimensions reflecting the method of measurement: physiological measures of sleepiness and affective reactivity/regulation, subjective measures of sleepiness and mood, and vigilance performance. Sleepiness and affective responses to sleep deprivation were associated (although separately for objective and subjective measures). PVT performance was also independent of the sleepiness and affect outcomes. These findings suggest that objective and subjective measures represent distinct entities that should not be assumed to be equivalent. By including affective outcomes in experimental sleep deprivation research, the impact of sleep loss on affective function and their relationship to other neurobehavioral domains can be assessed.