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Free Content When sleep is perceived as wakefulness: an experimental study on state perception during physiological sleep

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While electrophysiologically measured sleep and perception of sleep generally concur, various studies have shown this is not always the case. The objective of the present study was to assess the perception of actual state during sleep by the technique of planned awakenings and interviewing subjects on the preawakening state. Sixty-eight (43 females, 25 males) young (mean age: 24.1, SD 5.1 years) normal sleeping subjects were deliberately awakened out of consolidated sleep, either stage 2 (S2), or REM sleep, during the first night in a non-clinical sleep laboratory. While the preawakening state was experienced as sleep in 48 cases (70.6%), it was experienced as wakefulness in 20 cases (29.4%). The percentage of awake judgements was somewhat, but not significantly, higher for awakenings out of S2 (38.2%), to REM sleep (20.6%). The proportion of mismatches between electrophysiologically defined sleep and state judgements was time-dependent with more awake judgements for REM sleep in the second half of the sleep period (41.7%) than in the first one (17.4%). Those subjects who made an awake judgement more frequently had a feeling of being aware of the situation and their surroundings than those who made a sleep judgement (80% versus 33%). Awareness during sleep may be a cognitive style, which favours mismatches between state perception and electrophysiologically defined sleep. Sleep periods with concordant or discordant state judgements did not differ in electrophysiologically defined sleep onset latency, sleep efficiency, or sleep state distribution.
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Keywords: awakening; awareness; cognitive activity; sleep perception

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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