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The effects of anticipating a high-stress task on sleep and performance during simulated on-call work

journal contribution
posted on 23.04.2019, 00:00 authored by Madeline SprajcerMadeline Sprajcer, Sarah Jay, Grace VincentGrace Vincent, A Vakulin, L Lack, Sally FergusonSally Ferguson
On-call work is used to manage around the clock working requirements in a variety of industries. Often, tasks that must be performed while on-call are highly important, difficult and/or stressful by nature and, as such, may impact the level of anxiety that is experienced by on-call workers. Heightened anxiety is associated with poor sleep, which affects next-day cognitive performance. Twenty-four male participants (20-35 years old) spent an adaptation, a control and two counterbalanced on-call nights in a time-isolated sleep laboratory. On one of the on-call nights they were told that they would be required to do a speech upon waking (high-stress condition), whereas on the other night they were instructed that they would be required to read to themselves (low-stress condition). Pre-bed anxiety was measured by the State Trait Anxiety Inventory form x-1, and polysomnography and quantitative electroencephalogram analyses were used to investigate sleep. Performance was assessed across each day using the 10-min psychomotor vigilance task (09:30 hours, 12:00 hours, 14:30 hours, 17:00 hours). The results indicated that participants experienced no significant changes in pre-bed anxiety or sleep between conditions. However, performance on the psychomotor vigilance task was best in the high-stress condition, possibly as a result of heightened physiological arousal caused by performing the stressful task that morning. This suggests that performing a high-stress task may be protective of cognitive performance to some degree when sleep is not disrupted.

Funding

Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)

History

Volume

27

Issue

6

Start Page

1

End Page

9

Number of Pages

9

eISSN

1365-2869

ISSN

0962-1105

Location

England

Publisher

Wiley

Language

eng

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

Acceptance Date

27/02/2018

External Author Affiliations

Flinders University; University of Sydney; Flinders University of South Australia,

Author Research Institute

Appleton Institute

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

Journal of Sleep Research