Purpose: Sleep following training can enhance motor skill memory consolidation while chronic sleep disruption can have the converse effect. The aim of this investigation was to explore the relationship between sleep measured by wrist actigraphy, motor skill consolidation and primary motor cortex excitability in young, healthy individuals. Methods: Training was a visuospatial finger-tracking task. Dependent measures included tracking skill performance, cortical excitability, measures of sleep, and level of arousal. Assessments occurred pre-training, post-training and at 12 h and 24 h retention. An activity monitor was worn on the wrist during the nights preceding and following training. Results: Results indicate that sleep during the night following training was predictive of 1) offline skill consolidation following training (R 2 = 0.34) and 2) cortical excitability at 24 h follow-up (R 2 = 0.35) with less time spent awake associated with better skill performance and lower cortical excitability at 24 h follow-up. No difference in measures of sleep was observed between nights of sleep (p > 0.05). Sleep the night before training did not influence skill performance, skill acquisition during training, nor measures of cortical excitability at pre-training assessment. Conclusions: These findings suggest a relationship between motor skill development, cortical excitability and sleep following training. These results invite further investigation into the utility of actigraphy as a low-cost, easy-to-administer alternative to polysomnography for short and long-term evaluation of the relationship between sleep, cortical excitability and motor skill learning in healthy and patient populations.
- cortical excitability
- motor learning