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Sleep deprivation and human performance: a comparison between single and dual tasks


Sleep deprivation leads to physical and cognitive impairments. In addition, we commonly perform concurrent activities, which can generate even more psychomotor damage.


To measure the effect of 36 hours of sleep deprivation on the psychomotor performance of adults in single and dual task conditions.


The following group participated in the study: 14 male subjects with mean age 24,36±3,67 years and BMI 25,01±2,54 kg/m². The participants performed the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) every 12 hours during the protocol of sleep deprivation of 36 hours. The variables analized were: Mean of Reaction Time and the number of Attentional Lapses in a Single Task Condition (STC) and in a Dual Task Condition (DTC). In the STC, the participants performed the PVT seated and holding the instrument in their hands. In the DTC, the participants performed the PVT standing on a Force Platform and were oriented to maintain the body as static as possible during the entire test. The GLM (General Linear Model) test was used to compare the psychomotor performance of the participants in the STC and in the DTC on the 4 moments of application. The level of significance adopted was p<0.05.


There was no statistical difference in the variables Mean of Reaction Time (F<0,01; p=0,96) and Lapses (F=0,10 p=0,92) of the psychomotor performance between STC and DTC. However, there was time-effect between the 4 moments in the variables Mean Reaction Time (F=9,88; p<0,01) and Attentional Lapses (F=12,43 p<0,01), showing that the psychomotor performance were negatively impacted by sleep deprivation in both conditions.


The sleep deprivation of 36 hours reduced the participants psychomotor performance in the STC and in the DTC. Furthermore, we observed that a psychomotor task performed in a single task condition can identify the psychomotor performance of individuals who realize concurrent activities.


sleep deprivation, dual task, psychomotor performance, sustained attention, reaction time.


Área Clínica


Federal University of Minas Gerais - Minas Gerais - Brasil


Henrique Araujo Andrade, Fernanda Veruska Narciso, Valdênio Martins Brant, Carlos Amaral Magno, Andressa Silva, Marco Tulio de Mello