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Free Content Sleep organization in the first year of life: Developmental trends in the quiet sleep–paradoxical sleep cycle

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The night sleep of 48 healthy drug-free infants, aged 1–54 weeks, was recorded and analysed in order to show how cycles contribute to sleep episode organization and how the balance among different sleep states (i.e. quiet sleep, paradoxical sleep and ambiguous sleep) within cycles changes as a function of age.

A greater proportion of time spent in cycles (TCT) on total sleep time (TST), as a result of the lengthening of sleep cycles, was found in older infants, whereas sleep out of cycles decreases with age. The internal structure of the sleep cycles also changes with age, because of the increase in the proportion of quiet sleep (QS), the appearance of slow wave sleep (SWS) from the 21st week onwards, and the decrease in ambiguous sleep. The proportion of paradoxical sleep (PS), however, remains stable throughout the first year of age.

The improvement of sleep organization across the first year of life is paralleled by an internal restructuring of the cycle, involving mainly changes in QS. We may speculate that both changes, one involving the lengthening of cycle and the other involving the increase in QS component, contribute to the improvement of biological and psychological sleep functions during development.

Keywords: development; infants; sleep; sleep cycles; sleep organization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Florence 2: Department of Theory, History and Social Research, University of Trento, Italy

Publication date: 2000-03-01

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