Free Content The diurnal distribution of sleep propensity: experimental data about the interaction of the propensities for slow‐wave sleep and REM sleep

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The aim of the present study was to assess the diurnal variation of sleep propensity by evaluating the temporal distribution of sleep onset latency (SOL) and REM‐ and slow‐wave sleep (SWS) parameters in systematically scheduled daytime naps for 12 young males. To reduce the effect of prior SWS on subsequent REM sleep, a double‐nap technique was used, i.e. two adjacent naps A and B, which were separated by a 10‐min break. Nap duration was adjusted in such a way that nap A allowed 30 min of sleep and nap B one complete NREM–REM cycle. EEG slow wave activity (SWA, power density from 0.5–4 Hz) was estimated from nap A and REM sleep parameters from nap B. The time span between 08.00 hours and 24.00 hours was covered by nine double‐naps at 2 h intervals. The order of the nap sessions was systematically varied within and across subjects. For each subject, the time between successive double‐nap recordings was at least three days. SOL was shortest in the time interval 12.00 hours to 16.00 hours and significantly longer between 20.00 hours and 24.00 hours. REM sleep duration and the percentage of sleep onset REM episodes decreased continuously from 08.00 hours to the interval 18.00–20.00 hours and increased thereafter, with a time course inversely related to the one of body temperature, which was also measured continuously. SWA showed a steady, threefold increase from 08.00 hours to 24.00 hours. The study offers new data on the diurnal variation of sleep propensity which seems to be a composite function of the drives for SWS and REM sleep.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychiatry, University Clinic Benjamin Franklin, Free University, Berlin, Germany 2: PAREXEL GmbH, Berlin, Germany 3: Department of Neurology, Klinikum Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany

Publication date: June 1, 1996

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