Can stress act as a sleep inertia countermeasure when on-call?

Sarah M. Jay, Donna M. Carley, Brad Aisbett, Sally A. Ferguson, Jessica L. Paterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The nature of on-call work is such that workers can be called and required to respond immediately after being woken. However, due to sleep inertia, impaired performance immediately upon waking is typical. We investigated the impact of a preceding stressor (an alarm/mobilisation procedure) on sleepiness and performance upon waking. Healthy, adult males (n = 16) attended the sleep laboratory for four consecutive nights which included two, counterbalanced on-call sleeps where participants were woken at 04:00 h by (a) an alarm/mobilisation procedure (Alarm) or (b) gently by a researcher (Control). Following waking was a 2-h testing session comprising the repeated administration of the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) and 5-min Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT). Results from within-subjects analysis of variance in both the Control and Alarm conditions showed that for subjective sleepiness (KSS) there was a significant fixed effect of time (p = 0.012), with participants becoming less sleepy as time post-wake increased. In terms of PVT performance outcomes, in neither the Alarm or Control conditions were there measurable signs of sleep inertia with performance remaining stable across the 2-h testing period. Based on previous research measuring impact of sleep inertia when woken near the circadian nadir, performance findings in particular were unexpected. We propose that stress caused by study procedures (i.e. finger pricks using lancets) unrelated to the simulated wake-up protocols may have countered any impact of sleep inertia on performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-439
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Rhythm Research
Issue number3
Early online date23 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • emergency response
  • neurobehavioural performance
  • on-call
  • sleep
  • sleep inertia
  • sleepiness


Dive into the research topics of 'Can stress act as a sleep inertia countermeasure when on-call?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this