The acute physiological stress response to an emergency alarm and mobilization during the day and at night
journal contributionposted on 01.05.2016, 00:00 authored by Sarah HallSarah Hall, Brad AisbettBrad Aisbett, Jamie TaitJamie Tait, Anne TurnerAnne Turner, S A Ferguson, Luana MainLuana Main
The purpose of this study was to investigate the acute physiological stress response to an emergency alarm and mobilization during the day and at night. Sixteen healthy males aged 25 ± 4 years (mean ± SD) spent four consecutive days and nights in a sleep laboratory. This research used a within-participants design with repeated measures for time, alarm condition (alarm or control), and trial (day or night). When an alarm sounded, participants were required to mobilize immediately. Saliva samples for cortisol analysis were collected 0 min, 15 min, 30 min, 45 min, 60 min, 90 min, and 120 min after mobilization, and at corresponding times in control conditions. Heart rate was measured continuously throughout the study. Heart rate was higher in the day (F20,442 = 9.140, P < 0.001) and night (F23,459 = 8.356, P < 0.001) alarm conditions compared to the respective control conditions. There was no difference in saliva cortisol between day alarm and day control conditions. Cortisol was higher (F6,183 = 2.450, P < 0.001) following the night alarm and mobilization compared to the night control condition. The magnitude of difference in cortisol between night control and night alarm conditions was greater (F6,174 = 4.071, P < 0.001) than the magnitude of difference between the day control and day alarm conditions. The augmented heart rate response to the day and night alarms supports previous observations in field settings. Variations in the cortisol responses between conditions across the day and night may relate to differences in participants' ability to interpret the alarm when sleeping versus when awake.