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Effects of 24-h and 36-h sleep deprivation on human postural control and adaptation

Experimental Brain Research
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  • Musicology


This study investigated whether human postural stability and adaptation were affected by sleep deprivation and the relationship between motor performance and subjective scores of sleepiness (visuo-anlogue sleepiness scores, VAS). Postural stability and subjective sleepiness were examined in 18 healthy subjects (mean age 23.8 years) following 24 and 36 h of continued wakefulness, ensured by portable EEG recordings, and compared to a control test where the assessments were made after a normal night of sleep. The responses were assessed using posturography with eyes open and closed, and vibratory proprioceptive stimulations were used to challenge postural control. Postural control was significantly affected after 24 h of sleep deprivation both in anteroposterior and in lateral directions, but less so after 36 h. Subjective VAS scores showed poor correlation with indicators of postural control performance. The clearest evidence that sleep deprivation decreased postural control was the reduction of adaptation. Also several near falls after 2-3 min during the posturographic tests showed that sleep deprivation might affect stability through momentary lapses of attention. Access to vision, somewhat, but not entirely reduced the effect of sleep deprivation. In conclusion, sleep deprivation can be a contributing factor to decreased postural control and falls.

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