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BACKGROUND: It is well-established that environmental noise can disrupt sleep, and cause a mismatch between subjective and objective sleep, which is known as "sleep misperception". Naturalistic studies indicate that pre-sleep cognitive arousal and sleep misperception are associated in the context of noise. However, it is not known if this is the case when ecologically valid noises are specifically played during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is susceptible to noise-related disruption. The present study evaluated if pre-sleep cognitive arousal was associated with sleep misperception in healthy normal sleepers, when unexpected ecologically valid common nocturnal noises were played during NREM sleep. METHODS: Eighteen healthy sleepers (Mage = 23.37 years, SDage = 3.21 years) participated. Sleep was measured objectively on three consecutive nights using polysomnography, in a sleep laboratory environment, and subjectively, through participant estimates of total sleep time (TST). Night 1 was a baseline night where no noises were played. On Night 2, noises, which were chosen to be representative of habitual nocturnal noises heard in home environments, were played to participants via in-ear headphones after 5 min of objective sleep. RESULTS: Unexpectedly, habitual pre-sleep cognitive arousal was not associated with subjective-objective TST discrepancy on Night 2. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that in healthy sleepers, when ecologically valid noises are played unexpectedly during NREM sleep in an unfamiliar sleep laboratory environment the subjective experience of sleep is not associated with pre-sleep cognitive arousal, or negatively impacted by noise exposure.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain sci

Publication Date





noise, polysomnography, sleep, sleep architecture, sleep misperception