The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between post-nap measures of alertness and performance and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and parasympathetic activity during brief naps. Thirty healthy subjects were randomly assigned to no-nap, 15-min, and 45-min nap conditions after normal home sleep at prior night. Each nap was taken after lunch and monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyogram, electrooculogram, and electrocardiogram (ECG). Deep NREM sleep was quantified by EEG delta power density and the parasympathetic activity was quantified by the ECG high-frequency (HF) component of R-R interval variability during the 15- and 45-min naps. The P300 event-related potential, subjective sleepiness, and performance on a 90-min English transcription task were measured 30min and 3hr after the naps and tested for their association with the EEG and ECG measures. A positive correlation was obtained between EEG delta power density during the naps and P300 latency 30min after the naps (r=0.476, p<0.05). The HF component during the naps was negatively correlated with the P300 latency 3hr after the naps (r=-0.519, p<0.05). These results suggest that the sleep inertia prolongs the P300 latency immediately after the naps, and that the parasympathetic predominance during the naps may improve subsequent alertness as assessed by the shortened P300 latency 3hr after the naps.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health