Sleep less or wake up every two hours?

Recently I had the opportunity to conduct two experiments on sleep deprivation. Below is the latest, analyzing the effects of sleep deprivation vs. sleep fragmentation. The study was designed with occupations requiring extended wakefulness in mind. Such as the military, law enforcement and of course fire and EMS. Below is the abstract. Click “Fullscreen”.

Abstract There is an established link between sleep deprivation and neurocognitive deficits (Bonnet & Arand, 2003). When coupled with occupational environments requiring sustained vigilance these negative effects can pose a serious threat to equipment and personnel. Unfortunately due to budgetary or manpower limitations it is not always feasible to provide adequate sleep time within environments such as medicine and aviation (Armentrout et al, 2006). In the present study we asked whether a reorganized sleep architecture could allow an individual to attend to their duties as well as provide opportunities for sufficient rest. We compared two potential sleep regimens: partial sleep deprivation (PSD) and sleep fragmentation (SF). We defined PSD as 50% of the normal duration of a participant’s sleep and SF as the normal duration punctuated by four equidistance awakenings in which the participant had to complete 5min of simple mental tasks. We measured scores on a reverse digit span task, a psychomotor vigilance and mean HR while playing a non- violent video game. Our results favour sleep fragmentation as producing slightly fewer cognitive deficits.

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