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Free Content Inducing a 6‐hour phase advance in the elderly: effects on sleep and temperature rhythms

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The aim of this experiment was to study the effects on sleep and temperature rhythms of a 6‐hour (h) phase advance of the sleep/wake cycle in healthy elderly subjects. Twenty‐five subjects (77–91 y.o.) lived in a time‐isolation apartment on an experimenter‐controlled routine for 15 days. The experiment started with five baseline days. The wake time on the 6th night was phase advanced by 6‐h and the routine for the remaining nine days was held constant to the new phase position. After the phase shift, temperature circadian rhythms showed rapid phase adjustment leading to a small (1.1 h) phase angle disturbance. Sleep efficiency decreased and showed little evidence of recovery back to baseline following the phase shift. The amount of wakefulness in the first two hours of sleep increased after the phase shift while no effect was found for the amount of wakefulness in the last two hours of sleep. The 6‐h phase shift did not change the percentages of REM and SWS. Early night sleep propensity appeared to be very sensitive to a small phase angle disturbance of the circadian oscillator in this healthy elderly sample. The phase angle disturbance induced in this study did not seem to be large enough to have a systematic effect on sleep propensity at the end of the night or on REM sleep parameters, suggesting that these variables are less sensitive to an altered phase relationship with the circadian oscillator than early night sleep propensity. These results indicate that there might be a variable phase tolerance for different sleep parameters in older subjects.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sleep and Chronobiology Center, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, USA

Publication date: June 1, 1996

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