Short Daytime Naps Briefly Attenuate Objectively Measured Sleepiness Under Chronic Sleep Restriction.

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Study Objectives

Napping is a useful countermeasure to the negative effects of acute sleep loss on alertness. The efficacy of naps to recover from chronic sleep loss is less well understood.


Following 2 baseline nights (10 hours' time-in-bed), participants were restricted to 7 nights of 5-hour sleep opportunity. Ten adults participated in the No-Nap condition, and a further 9 were assigned to a Nap condition with a daily 45-minute nap opportunity at 1300 h. Sleepiness was assessed using the multiple sleep latency test and a visual analogue scale at 2-hour intervals. Both objective and subjective indexes of sleepiness were normalized within subject as a difference from those at baseline prior to sleep restriction. Mixed-effects models examined how the daytime nap opportunity altered sleepiness across the day and across the protocol.


Short daytime naps attenuated sleepiness due to chronic sleep restriction for up to 6-8 hours after the nap. Benefits of the nap did not extend late into evening. Subjective sleepiness demonstrated a similar short-lived benefit that emerged later in the day when objective sleepiness already returned to pre-nap levels. Neither measure showed a benefit of the nap the following morning after the subsequent restriction night.


These data indicate a short daytime nap may attenuate sleepiness in chronic sleep restriction, yet subjective and objective benefits emerge at different time scales. Because neither measure showed a benefit the next day, the current study underscores the need for careful consideration before naps are used as routine countermeasures to chronic sleep loss.

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