Spindle frequencies in sleep EEG show U-shape within first four NREM sleep episodes

Sari-Leena Himanen, Jussi Virkkala, Heini Huhtala, Joel Hasan
Journal of Sleep Research 2002, 11 (1): 35-42
It has been shown in previous studies on sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) that spindles are slower in the beginning of the night fastening towards the end of the night. Corresponding findings have been obtained by spectral analysis. The present study was based on our preliminary observation that slower spindles are found in the middle of the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep episodes as compared with the beginning or the end of the episodes. Eight healthy female and six male subjects were studied. Sleep spindles were visually selected and spindle frequencies calculated for 11 analysis points in each NREM sleep episode. The median spindle frequencies formed a clear U-shape within NREM sleep episodes with an initial decrease and final increase. The decrease was statistically significant within the first four NREM sleep episodes. It is possible that the spindle frequency pattern could be used to reveal variations in sleep depth within sleep stage 2. In animal studies the spindle frequency has been found to be associated to the duration of the hyperpolarization-rebound sequences of the thalamocortical cells. If it is assumed that the same cellular mechanisms are responsible for spindle frequencies in humans then the study of variations in spindle frequency could be used to examine the NREM sleep process in humans.

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