Sleep and Biological Rhythms

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 279–285 | Cite as

Expectation of a loud alarm is not associated with changes in on-call sleep in the laboratory

  • Sarah M. JayEmail author
  • Brad Aisbett
  • Sally A. Ferguson
Original Article


Anecdotally, people report disturbed sleep when ‘on-call’ and field data suggest that being on-call, even if ‘undisturbed’, may result in sleep disturbance. We investigated changes to sleep when expecting a loud, on-call alarm as compared to sleep when not expecting an alarm. Healthy males (n = 16) aged 24.6 ± 4.0 years took part in a simulated on-call scenario involving two conditions; Control and on-call. Prior to the Control sleep, participants were told that they would not be woken during the night, prior to the on-call sleep, participants were told to expect a loud alarm during the night, following which they were to complete 2 h of testing. Sleep was measured using a standard 5-channel polysomnograhic (PSG) montage. Sleep diaries were used to compare subjective variables; pre- and post-sleep sleepiness and sleep quality. There was no significant difference between the two nights for any of the PSG variables, except for REM where there was a non-significant trend (p = .051) with 8 min more REM on the on-call night. Participants were significantly sleepier following the on-call night, likely due to the earlier wake time (p < .01). These results question whether simply being on-call is disruptive to sleep or whether disruption is connected to other factors such as likelihood of being called, worry about missing the call and/or the events that follow.


Alarm On-call Simulation Perceived sleep quality Sleep Stress 



There are no conflicts of interests to declare. We would like to thank and for the staff and students at CQUniversity and Deakin University for their time and efforts during data collection. This Research was supported by the CQUniversity Research and Development Incentives Program and in part, by a Deakin University, Faculty of Health Research Development Grant.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Sleep Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah M. Jay
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brad Aisbett
    • 2
  • Sally A. Ferguson
    • 1
  1. 1.Appleton InstituteCQUniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Exercise and Nutrition SciencesDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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