Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Hawley Montgomery-Downs.


Postpartum women have high rates of sleep disturbance and commonly suffer from many of the effects of disturbed sleep, though attentional state has not been studied extensively in this population. This study assessed sleep and attentional state psychomotor performance in postpartum women to develop a better understanding of how sleep disturbance --specifically sleep fragmentation and partial sleep deprivation-- is associated with attentional state psychomotor performance. Participants were a sample of 24 postpartum mothers from a larger study. Mothers were 29.96 (SD = 7.94) years old, had a mean income of {dollar}65,808 (SD = {dollar}41,398), and had 17.04 (SD = 2.53) years of education. Of these women, 95.83% lived with their partner, 91.67% were white, and 50% were primiparious. Data were collected from 8 through 15 weeks postpartum, inclusive. Mothers wore an actigraph on their non-dominant wrist to record their sleep and recorded their sleep and wake behaviors in an electronic diary. Mothers completed a psychomotor vigilance test (PVT) each morning within 2 hours of awakening and before consuming caffeine. Overall, mothers obtained a reasonable amount of 24 hour sleep (7 hours and 36 minutes); however, this sleep was fragmented (M = 14.19, SE = .16). Additionally, mothers performed poorly on the PVT (Reaction time: M = 397.52, msec. SE = 2.61; Percent lapses M = 15.89, SE = .52) when compared to normative values. Results indicate that sleep time and sleep fragmentation from the previous night are not associated with attentional based psychomotor performance the following day in this sample of women. Across postpartum weeks 8-16 the amount of sleep obtained remained the same; however, across time it became less fragmented (p < .001) and was obtained in more consolidated periods. The current study provides objective data regarding the amount of sleep fragmentation in postpartum women and describes how sleep fragmentation changes across postpartum weeks 8-16. Additionally, this study indicates that postpartum women perform poorly on the PVT, yet they obtain a reasonable amount of sleep time.