A split sleep schedule rescues short-term topographical memory after multiple nights of sleep restriction
SourceSleep, 42, 4, (2019), article zsz018
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
STUDY OBJECTIVES: Chronic sleep restriction in adolescents is widespread, yet we know little about how to apportion the limited amount of sleep obtained to minimize cognitive impairment: should sleep occur only nocturnally, or be split across separate nocturnal and daytime nap periods? This is particularly relevant to hippocampal-dependent cognitive functions that underpin several aspects of learning. METHOD: We assessed hippocampal function in four groups by evaluating short-term topographical memory with the Four Mountains Test (4MT). All participants began with 9 hours nocturnal time-in-bed (TIB) for 2 days before following different sleep schedules over the next 3 days. Each day, one group had 5 hours nocturnal TIB (5.0h; n = 30), another, 6.5 hours nocturnal TIB (6.5h; n = 29), and a third had 6.5 hours split into 5 hours nocturnal TIB and a 1.5 hour TIB daytime nap (5.0 + 1.5h; n = 29). A control group maintained 9 hours nocturnal TIB (9.0h; n = 30). The 4MT was administered mid-afternoon (1.5 hours after awakening for those who napped). RESULTS: Performance of the 5.0h and 6.5h nocturnal TIB groups was significantly impaired relative to the 9.0h control group. Performance of participants on the split- sleep schedule (5.0 + 1.5h) did not significantly differ from controls. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that hippocampal function is sensitive to moderate multi-night sleep restriction, but deficits can be ameliorated by splitting sleep, at least for a period after waking from a daytime nap. While this split sleep schedule should not be considered a replacement for adequate nocturnal sleep, it appears to benefit the cognitive and neurophysiological functions that underpin learning in those who are chronically sleep deprived.
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