Archive for the Sleep Category

Afraid of the boogeyman at night?

Posted in Brain, Sleep with tags , , , on May 15, 2010 by The Beaver Medic

That nightlight may be affecting your sleep. Last year I had the opportunity to conduct a small experiment (N=15) on the effects of sleeping with a nightlight. The experiment was part of a research methods course in developmental psychology. I pretested 15 individuals from the class on three measures of cognitive abilities; verbal reasoning, numerical logic and short term working memory. After randomly assigning half of the group to sleep with a nightlight and half to sleep normally I retested the group. There actually were small detriments in the nightlight condition on measures of numerical logic and short-term memory.


There is an established link between poor sleep habits and reduced performance on various cognitive tasks (Tucker & Fishbein, 2009). Recent research findings have suggested a physiological pathway which would enable light to influence sleep and wakefulness via non- visual inputs to the mammalian brain (Hattar et al, 2002). At present the basis of most research into this pathway have been neuroanatomical in nature. The current study investigated the possible behavioural effects of sleeping with ambient room lighting. We examined a small subset of cognitive abilities in young adults before and after sleeping with a nightlight. Our results indicate that adults perform poorer on retests of numerical logic and memory after sleeping with a nightlight. These effects could potentially implicate our lives as prehospital care providers while sleeping during the day for a nightshift or grabbing a quick nap in a well lit station.

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Sleep less or wake up every two hours?

Posted in Brain, Sleep with tags , , , on May 5, 2010 by The Beaver Medic

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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