Physiological Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Acute Stress Reactivity
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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Sleep deprivation affects a large population of students on college campuses and is associated with heightened sympathetic nervous system arousal. The aim of this study is to identify any differences that may exist between various physiological responses to acute stress based on individual levels of sleep deprivation. Collectively, it was hypothesized that sleepdeprived individuals would experience a greater increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and skin conductance when exposed to an acute stressful stimulus than those who were non-sleepdeprived. Stress response was assessed by changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and skin conductance in response to an acoustic stimulus. Individuals were asked to listen to a 3-minute sound recording of soothing music, during which physiological measurements were taken. The results of this study indicated no statistically significant differences in physiological responses between those who were sleep-deprived and non-sleep-deprived, with the exception of differences in mean arterial pressure. The difference in mean arterial pressure was significant only with respect to those who indicated having obtained “significantly less” and “significantly more” sleep (sleep-deprived MAP: �=4.33 vs. non-sleep-deprived MAP: �=−15.84±7.30) the night before the study, compared to a typical night’s sleep. We were unable to find support for our hypothesis based on these results. The lack of significant findings is likely reflective of the paucity of severely sleep-deprived participants; thus, our findings may be better understood in the context of mild to moderate sleep deprivation. We concluded that further research needs to be conducted to properly identify scientific definitions for sleep deprivation and quality of sleep.
physiological stress response