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Psychosocial Stress Before a Nap Increases Sleep Latency and Decreases Early Slow-Wave Activity


Ackermann, Sandra; Cordi, Maren; La Marca, Roberto; Seifritz, Erich; Rasch, Björn (2019). Psychosocial Stress Before a Nap Increases Sleep Latency and Decreases Early Slow-Wave Activity. Frontiers in Psychology, 10:20.

Abstract

Sleep disturbances are an important risk factor for stress-related diseases such as burnout or depression. In particular, slow-wave activity (SWA) during sleep might be eminently relevant for optimal maintenance of mental health and cognitive functioning. In spite of the clinical importance and the pertinence of stress-related processes in everyday life, the physiological mechanisms of the association between stress, sleep, and cognition are not well-understood. In the present study, we carefully mapped the time course of the influence of a psychosocial stressor on sleep architecture and sleep-related oscillations during a midday nap. We induced stress using a psychosocial laboratory stressor, the Montreal Imaging Stress Task, vs. a neutral control task. Afterward, participants were allowed to take a 90-min nap (n = 20) or stayed awake (n = 19) and cortisol was measured via saliva samples. We hypothesized that stress would decrease sleep efficiency and SWA in a time-dependent manner, with impairing effects on cognitive functioning. Psychosocial stress resulted in increased cortisol levels, which were elevated throughout the study interval. In the nap group, psychosocial stress increased sleep latency, but had only minor effects on sleep architecture. Still, SWA in the first 30 min of sleep was significantly reduced, whereas alpha activity was enhanced. These effects vanished after approximately 30 min. No impairing effect on cognitive functioning occurred. Our results show that psychosocial stress before sleep has an impact on sleep latency and early SWA during sleep. In contrast to our hypothesis, the effects were rather small and short-lasting. Importantly, cognitive functioning was maintained. We conclude that the effects of psychosocial stress before a nap are possibly better compensated than previously believed.

Abstract

Sleep disturbances are an important risk factor for stress-related diseases such as burnout or depression. In particular, slow-wave activity (SWA) during sleep might be eminently relevant for optimal maintenance of mental health and cognitive functioning. In spite of the clinical importance and the pertinence of stress-related processes in everyday life, the physiological mechanisms of the association between stress, sleep, and cognition are not well-understood. In the present study, we carefully mapped the time course of the influence of a psychosocial stressor on sleep architecture and sleep-related oscillations during a midday nap. We induced stress using a psychosocial laboratory stressor, the Montreal Imaging Stress Task, vs. a neutral control task. Afterward, participants were allowed to take a 90-min nap (n = 20) or stayed awake (n = 19) and cortisol was measured via saliva samples. We hypothesized that stress would decrease sleep efficiency and SWA in a time-dependent manner, with impairing effects on cognitive functioning. Psychosocial stress resulted in increased cortisol levels, which were elevated throughout the study interval. In the nap group, psychosocial stress increased sleep latency, but had only minor effects on sleep architecture. Still, SWA in the first 30 min of sleep was significantly reduced, whereas alpha activity was enhanced. These effects vanished after approximately 30 min. No impairing effect on cognitive functioning occurred. Our results show that psychosocial stress before sleep has an impact on sleep latency and early SWA during sleep. In contrast to our hypothesis, the effects were rather small and short-lasting. Importantly, cognitive functioning was maintained. We conclude that the effects of psychosocial stress before a nap are possibly better compensated than previously believed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Psychology
Language:English
Date:25 January 2019
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 10:11
Last Modified:30 Apr 2019 07:11
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00020
Project Information:
  • : FunderH2020
  • : Grant ID677875
  • : Project TitleMemoSleep - Longing for a good night's sleep: A memory-based mechanism to improve sleep and cognitive functioning.
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_162388
  • : Project TitleOscillatory mechanisms underlying memory retention and reactivation during sleep
  • : FunderClinical Research Priority Program (CRPP) “Sleep and Health”
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title

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