The Effect of Chronic Sleep Deprivation and Circadian Rhythm on Change Blindness and General Arousal

Open Access
Khalid, Humza
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Frederick Martin Brown, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeff M Love, Honors Advisor
  • Psychology
  • Partial Sleep Deprivation
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • General Arousal
  • PVT
  • Change Blindness
Sleep deprivation continues to grow as a common problem across the country as people report often going extended periods of time without adequate sleep quality, or in some cases, none at all (Connor et al, 2002). Acute or total sleep deprivation (SD) is defined as “being awake for an extended of time” whereas chronic partial sleep deprivation (PSD) is defined as “extended reduction in sleep quality or duration”. Chronic PSD is more representative of the American population because individuals often report sacrificing an hour or two of sleep for some work or social related activity (Hershner & Chervin, 2014). Change blindness is defined as the inability to detect changes in details in a visual display or photograph (Rensink, 2001). This is common in our daily lives as our visual fields are often overloaded with a variety of stimuli. Related to this, the effects of SD and PSD can be highly variable, especially depending on the time of day and an individual’s circadian rhythm. Because of this, circadian rhythms can alter the effects of both acute and chronic PSD. There is no significant previous research that studies the interacting effect of sleep deprivation and its effects on change blindness. This present study focused on studying the effects of chronic PSD and specific circadian rhythm phase on change blindness and general arousal measurements. This study demonstrated significant performance differences on a visual attention task and general arousal measurements averaged across PSD and rested groups at day times 12 hours apart. These findings suggest that there are significant effects of chronic PSD similar those of total acute sleep deprivation. Also, there is a circadian rhythm effect on alertness and peak performance at different times of the day. Future research should focus on gathering a more representative sample and establishing strict guidelines and protocol for tracking the participant’s self-reported measures of sleep duration.