The effects of sleep restriction on executive inhibitory control and affect in young adults

Rossa, Kalina R., Smith, Simon S., Allan, Alicia C. and Sullivan, Karen A. (2014) The effects of sleep restriction on executive inhibitory control and affect in young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55 2: 287-292. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.12.034

Author Rossa, Kalina R.
Smith, Simon S.
Allan, Alicia C.
Sullivan, Karen A.
Title The effects of sleep restriction on executive inhibitory control and affect in young adults
Journal name Journal of Adolescent Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1879-1972
Publication date 2014-08-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.12.034
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 55
Issue 2
Start page 287
End page 292
Total pages 6
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA United States
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract

Young adults regularly experience restricted sleep due to a range of social, educational, and vocational commitments. Evidence suggests that extended periods of sleep deprivation negatively impact affective and inhibitory control mechanisms leading to behavioral consequences such as increased emotional reactivity and impulsive behavior. It is less clear whether acute periods of restricted sleep produce the same behavioral consequences.


Nineteen young adults (m = 8 and f = 12) with habitual late bedtime (after 22:30 h) and wake time (after 06:30 h) completed a range of objective and subjective measures assessing sleepiness (psychomotor vigilance task and Karolinska sleepiness scale), inhibitory control (emotional go/no-go task and a balloon analog risk task), and affect (positive and negative affective schedule). Testing was counterbalanced across participants and occurred on two occasions once following restricted sleep and once following habitual sleep 1 week apart.


Compared with habitual sleep, sleep restriction produced significantly slower performance on the psychomotor vigilance task and higher subjective ratings of sleepiness on the Karolinska sleepiness scale. Sleep restriction also caused a significant decrease in positive affect but no change in negative affect on the affective schedule. Inhibitory control efficiency was significantly differentiated, with participants showing an increase in risk taking on the balloon analog risk task, but there was no evidence of increased reactivity to negative stimuli on the emotional go/no-go task.


Results suggest that even acute periods of sleep loss may cause deficits in affective experiences and increase impulsive and potentially high-risk behavior in young adults.
Keyword Sleep deprivation
Impulsive behavior
Risk taking
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
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