Engineering Psychophysiology: Issues and Applications

By Richard W. Backs; Wolfram Boucsein | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
The Effect of Naps and Caffeine on Alertness During Sleep Loss and Nocturnal Work Periods

Michael H. Bonnet

Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center

Wright State University

Kettering Medical Center

Donna L. Arand

Kettering Medical Center

The ability to perform a wide variety of tasks is dependent on the level of alertness. Alertness at a given point in time is related to many variables including the time of day, the length of time awake, and the length and characteristics of the preceding sleep period. This chapter explores attempts to modify alertness and psychomotor performance during nocturnal work periods and sleep deprivation using naps and caffeine.

It has been known for many years that alertness and the ability to perform tasks declines across nocturnal work periods. Because shift work is common in modern society and because almost everyone has the occasional need to remain awake and active during the night, many examinations of nocturnal capabilities and factors that affect those abilities have been undertaken. Such studies have several common methodological procedures. It is typical for studies of sustained operations (SUSOPS) to repetitively measure several aspects of psychomotor performance and alertness over long periods of time to document changes in ability as a function of time of day and degree of sleep deprivation. Tasks typically used include reaction time, memory, coding, decision making, logical reasoning, vigilance, and mood. In addition to measures of subjective alertness, it is now common to measure objective alertness by monitoring the electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG shows characteristic and easily identifiable changes as subjects fall asleep. The speed with which the transition to sleep occurs is

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