The relationship between subjective and objective sleepiness and performance during a simulated night-shift with a nap countermeasure

Rebecca Tremaine, Jill Dorrian, Leon Lack, Nicole Lovato, Sally Ferguson, Xuan Zhou, Greg Roach

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49 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between perceived and actual sleepiness and performance during a simulated night-shift that included a 30-min night-nap as an on-duty sleepiness countermeasure. Twenty-four healthy young adults (nine males, fifteen females) participated in a repeated measures design comprising two experimental conditions: no night-nap and 30-min night-nap. Both groups were given a 2-h prophylactic afternoon sleep opportunity (1500-1700 h). Measures of subjective sleepiness (Stanford Sleepiness Scale, Karolinska Sleepiness Scale and Visual Analogue Scale), objective sleepiness (sleep latency tests), objective performance (Symbol-Digit Substitution Task) and reaction time (Psychomotor Vigilance Task) were taken before the night-nap (0230 h) and at several intervals post-nap. Time-series correlation analyses indicated that subjective sleepiness was less correlated with objective sleepiness and objective performance when participants were given a 30-min night-nap. However subjective sleepiness and reaction time performance was strongly correlated in both conditions, and there was no significant difference between the nap and no-nap conditions. Consistent with previous research, results of the present study indicate that subjective and objective indicators of sleepiness and performance may not always correspond, and this relationship may be reduced by the inclusion of a night-nap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-61
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Night-nap
  • Objective sleepiness
  • Subjective sleepiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

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