Cognitive Processing

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 155–162 | Cite as

Emerging adults’ sleep patterns and attentional capture: the pivotal role of consistency

Research Report

Abstract

College students face consistent cognitive demands and often get insufficient and/or irregular sleep. The current study investigated associations of sleep duration and sleep variability with attentional performance. Sleep duration variability was expected to moderate the association between duration and cognitive functioning. College students’ (n = 83) natural sleep patterns were recorded via wristband actigraphy across three consecutive nights during an academic term. The association between sleep duration and attentional capture was strongest for those whose sleep was the most consistent across the three nights preceding the attentional task (i.e., low sleep duration variability). For those with low sleep duration variability, less sleep was associated (B = −0.25) with reduced ability to ignore irrelevant cues and redirect attention to target locations. In other words, consistently low sleep duration was associated with compromises in attention. Our results indicate the importance of consistent sleep routines as well as sufficient sleep duration in order to optimize attentional performance in college students.

Keywords

Emerging adult Attention Sleep duration Sleep variability 

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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWashington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA

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