Cumulative sleep restriction, sleepiness and cognitive functions

Irregular working hours, overtime work and distress impair sleep in the transportation sector, which in turn jeopardizes recovery between journeys. Our aim is to examine whether and to what extent partial sleep debt over a workweek affects physiological and driving-related cognitive functions. In addition, recovery from sleep debt with a short rest pause at work and with two recovery nights is investigated.


01/200412/2011. Project ended.





  • Haavisto M-L, Virkkala J, Härmä M, Müller K, Porkka-Heiskanen T, Sallinen M.
  • Effects of Cumulative Sleep Loss and Two Nights' Recovery Sleep on Multiple-Task Performance: Proceedings of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 51st Annual Meeting -2007, 166-170.
  • van Leeuwen WMA., Lehto M, Karisola P, Lindholm H, Luukkonen R, Sallinen M, Härmä M, Porkka-Heiskanen T, Alenius H. Sleep restriction increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by augmenting proinflammatory responses through IL-17 and CRP. PLoS One, 2009, 4, e4589.
  • Estimating brain load from the EEG. Holm A, Lukander K, Korpela J, Sallinen M, Müller KM.
  • ScientificWorldJournal. 2009, 14, 639-51.


  • Brain and Work Research Centre, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
  • Department of Physiology, University of Helsinki
  • Agora Center, University of Jyväskylä

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22 healthy young (aged 19-29 yr) men volunteered for the study. 14 of them formed a sleep debt group and the remainder 8 served as a control group. The sleep debt group stayed for 10.5 days in laboratory conditions. The participants were allowed to sleep for 8 h / night during the first two nights (baseline), for 4 h / night during the next five nights (sleep debt), and for 8 h / night during the last three nights (recovery). The control group had the same protocol, except they were allowed to sleep for 8 h each night.

The most important outcome measures are sleep, sleepiness, vigilance, multitask performance, mood,  autonomic nervous system activity, hormones secretion, risk factors of diseases (CRP, homocysteine, ADMA, glucose,  insulin), and inflammatory responses.

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