Stop and revive? The effectiveness of nap and active rest breaks for reducing driver sleepiness

Authors

  • Christopher N. Watling,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety–Queensland, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Australia
    • Address correspondence to: Christopher N. Watling, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety–Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, 130 Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia, 4059. E-mail: christopher.watling@qut.edu.au

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Simon S. Smith,

    1. Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety–Queensland, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Mark S. Horswill

    1. School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This study was an investigator-led study with funding provided from a NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust grant awarded to Associate Professor Simon Smith, Associate Professor Mark Horswill, and Dr. James Douglas. The authors would also like to acknowledge the Sleep Disorders Centre of the Prince Charles Hospital for use of their polysomnographic equipment and laboratory facilities during the data collection period, as well as the kind assistance from the staff members.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two commonly utilized sleepiness countermeasures: a nap break and an active rest break. The effects of the countermeasures were evaluated by physiological (EEG), subjective, and driving performance measures. Participants completed 2 h of simulated driving, followed by a 15-min nap break or a 15-min active rest break, then completed the final hour of simulated driving. The nap break reduced EEG and subjective sleepiness. The active rest break did not reduce EEG sleepiness, with sleepiness levels eventually increasing, and resulted in an immediate reduction of subjective sleepiness. No difference was found between the two breaks for the driving performance measure. The immediate reduction of subjective sleepiness after the active rest break could leave drivers with erroneous perceptions of their sleepiness, particularly with increases of physiological sleepiness after the break.

Ancillary