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Previous research shows that experimental sleep deprivation alters emotion processing, suggesting a potential mechanism linking sleep disruption to mental ill-health. Extending previous work, we experimentally disrupted sleep continuity in good sleepers and assessed next-day emotion processing and regulation using tasks with established sensitivity to depression. In a laboratory-based study, 51 good sleepers (37 female; mean [SD] age 24 [3.63] years), were randomised to 1 night of uninterrupted sleep (n = 24) or sleep continuity disruption (n = 27). We assessed emotion perception, attention, and memory the following day. Participants also completed an emotion regulation task and measures of self-reported affect, anxiety, sleepiness, overnight declarative memory consolidation, and psychomotor vigilance. Confirming the effects of the manipulation, sleep continuity disruption led to a marked decrease in polysomnography-defined total sleep time (229.98 versus 434.57 min), increased wake-time after sleep onset (260.66 versus 23.84 min), and increased sleepiness (d = 0.81). Sleep continuity disruption led to increased anxiety (d = 0.68), decreased positive affect (d = -0.62), reduced overnight declarative memory consolidation (d = -1.08), and reduced psychomotor vigilance (longer reaction times [d = 0.64] and more lapses [d = 0.74]), relative to control. However, contrary to our hypotheses, experimental sleep disruption had no effect on perception of, or bias for, emotional facial expressions, emotional memory for words, or emotion regulation following worry induction. In conclusion, 1 night of sleep continuity disruption had no appreciable effect on objective measures of emotion processing or emotion regulation in response to worry induction, despite clear effects on memory consolidation, vigilance, and self-reported affect and anxiety.

Original publication




Journal article


J Sleep Res

Publication Date



attentional bias, depression, emotion, emotional regulation, memory consolidation, sleep, sleep deprivation