Sleep deprivation alters effort discounting but not delay discounting of monetary rewards.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Study objectives

To determine whether sleep deprivation would affect the discounting of delayed rewards, of rewards entailing the expense of effort, or both.


We measured rates of two types of reward discounting under conditions of rested wakefulness (RW) and sleep deprivation (SD). Delay discounting was defined as the willingness to accept smaller monetary rewards sooner rather than larger monetary rewards later. Effort discounting was defined as the willingness to accept smaller rewards that require less effort to obtain (e.g., typing a small number of letter strings backward) over larger but more effortful rewards (e.g., typing more letter strings to receive the reward). The first two experiments used a crossover design in which one session was conducted after a normal night of sleep (RW), and the other after a night without sleep (SD). The first experiment evaluated only temporal discounting whereas the second evaluated temporal and effort discounting. In the second experiment, the discounting tasks were repeatedly administered prior to the state comparisons to minimize the effects of order and/or repeated testing. In a third experiment, participants were studied only once in a between-subject evaluation of discounting across states.


The study took place in a research laboratory.


Seventy-seven healthy young adult participants: 20 in Experiment 1, 27 in Experiment 2, and 30 in Experiment 3.



Measurements and results

Sleep deprivation elicited increased effort discounting but did not affect delay discounting.


The dissociable effects of sleep deprivation on two forms of discounting behavior suggest that they may have differing underlying neural mechanisms.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Libedinsky, C; Massar, SAA; Ling, A; Chee, W; Huettel, SA; Chee, MWL

Published Date

  • June 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 899 - 904

PubMed ID

  • 23729933

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3649832

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1550-9109

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0161-8105

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.5665/sleep.2720


  • eng