The impact of anticipating a stressful task on sleep inertia when on-call

Katya Kovac, Grace E. Vincent, Sarah M. Jay, Madeline Sprajcer, Brad Aisbett, Leon Lack, Sally A. Ferguson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Sleep inertia, the state of reduced alertness upon waking, can negatively impact on-call workers. Anticipation of a stressful task on sleep inertia, while on-call was investigated. Young, healthy males (n = 23) spent an adaptation, control and two counterbalanced on-call nights in the laboratory. When on-call, participants were told they would be woken to a high or low stress task. Participants were not woken during the night, instead were given a 2300-0700 sleep opportunity. Participants slept ∼7.5-h in all conditions. Upon waking, sleep inertia was quantified using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale and Psychomotor Vigilance and Spatial Configuration Tasks, administered at 15-min intervals. Compared to control, participants felt sleepier post waking when on-call and sleepiest in the low stress compared to the high stress condition (p <.001). Spatial performance was faster when on-call compared to control (p <.001). Findings suggest that anticipating a high-stress task when on-call, does not impact sleep inertia severity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number102942
    Number of pages7
    JournalApplied Ergonomics
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


    • Cognitive performance
    • Stand-by work
    • Stress


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