The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Emotional Functioning and Its Electroencephalographic (EEG) Correlates

Project: Research project

Project Details


There is accumulating evidence for an intimate relationship between disrupted sleep and disturbed emotional health. However, current understanding of the impact of sleep loss on emotional functioning is incomplete, and the neural underpinnings remain largely unknown. Characterizing the emotional consequences of sleep loss is pivotal to understanding disorders involving sleep disturbances and mood symptoms and crucial to informing public health policies. We propose to investigate the impact of total sleep deprivation on a few key emotional functions, at both behavioral and neural levels, using a combination of computerized performance tests and electroencephalographic (EEG) measures. Our main hypotheses are: (1) Sleep deprivation (SD) will compromise behavioral performance on tasks measuring emotional inhibitory control, emotional memory, and emotional regulation; (2) SD will alter emotion-related neural activity as assessed using both resting-state EEG and event-related potentials (ERPs) during emotional tasks; (3) The resting-state EEG indices (frontal alpha asymmetry and slow wave/fast wave ratio) post sleep manipulation can predict the behavioral performance on the tasks involving of emotional functioning; (4) Habitual sleep quality and personality traits such as extraversion will moderate the influence of SD on emotional functioning. Based on our pilot study, we plan to recruit 110 healthy young adults and randomly assign them to either the SD or the sleep control (SC) group. Before the start of the experimental protocol, participants’ habitual sleep at home will be monitored for a week with sleep diary and actigraphy, with the addition of portable polysomnography (PSG) recordings on the last night of the pre-test week. On Day 1 night of the experimental protocol, all participants will sleep with PSG monitoring in the laboratory for adaptation. On Day 2 night, the control group will continue to have normal sleep in the laboratory while the SD group will stay awake for the whole night in the laboratory. In the morning of Day 3, both groups will undergo computer-based assessments of their sleepiness and vigilance level, emotional inhibitory control, emotional memory and emotional regulation, with EEG recording during resting state and during task performance. The behavioral and neural indicators of emotional functioning will be compared between the two groups. The findings of the proposed study will provide novel scientific insights into the neural underpinnings and behavioral manifestations related to sleep loss and emotional functioning, as well as the individual differences that moderate the impact of sleep loss on emotional functioning. This knowledge will have implications for understanding how sleep disruption can affect emotional processing in patients with affective or sleep disorders, as well as the impact of sleep loss on emotional functioning in the general population.

Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
Effective start/end date01/01/1831/12/20


  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Emotional Functioning
  • Electroencephalographic (EEG)


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