The effects of chronic partial sleep deprivation on cognitive functions of medical residents.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVES: Because of on-call responsibilities, many medical residents are subjected to chronic partial sleep deprivation, a form of sleep restriction whereby individuals have chronic patterns of insufficient sleep. It is unclear whether deterioration in cognitive processing skills due to chronic partial sleep deprivation among medical residents would influence educational exposure or patient safety. METHOD: Twenty-six medical residents were recruited to participate in the study. Participants wore an Actigraph over a period of 5 consecutive days and nights so their sleep pattern could be recorded. Thirteen participants worked on services that forced chronic partial sleep deprivation (<6 hours of sleep per 24h for 5 consecutive days and nights). The other thirteen residents worked on services that permitted regular and adequate sleep patterns. Following the 5-day sleep monitoring period, the participants completed the three following cognitive tasks: (a) the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) to assess abstract reasoning and prefrontal cortex performance; (b) the Time Perception Task (TPT) to assess time estimation and time reproduction skills; and (c) the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) to assess decision-making ability. RESULTS: The results of independent samples t-tests found no significant differences between the group who was chronically sleep deprived and the group who rested adequately (all ps > .05). CONCLUSION: THESE RESULTS MAY HAVE EMERGED FOR SEVERAL POSSIBLE REASONS: (a) chronic partial sleep deprivation may have a lesser impact on prefrontal cortex function than on other cognitive functions; (b) fairly modest chronic sleep restriction may be less harmful than acute and more significant sleep restriction; or (c) our research may have suffered from poor statistical power. Future research is recommended.
  • Authors


  • Cognition, Executive function, Internship and residency, Sleep deprivation
  • Author List

  • Khazaie H; Tahmasian M; Ghadami MR; Safaei H; Ekhtiari H; Samadzadeh S; Schwebel DC; Russo MB
  • Start Page

  • 74
  • End Page

  • 77
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 2