The sleep EEG's microstructure in depression: alterations of the phase relations between EEG rhythms during REM and NREM sleep

Joachim Röschke, Klaus Mann
Sleep Medicine 2002, 3 (6): 501-5

OBJECTIVE: We investigated the microstructure of sleep electroencephalograms (EEGs) of 13 unmedicated depressive inpatients and 13 healthy controls matched in sex and age, hypothesizing that depressives depict an alteration of certain EEG oscillations across the night.

METHODS: We digitized the sleep EEGs with a sampling rate of 100 Hz (bipolar derivation C(z)-P(z), 1440 single sweeps; 2048 data points each), calculated the time course of delta (1-3.5 Hz), theta (3.5-7.5 Hz), alpha (7.5-15 Hz), and beta (15-35 Hz) activity over the night, and determined the correlation coefficients of these different EEG rhythms separately for rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

RESULTS: For both groups we detected a clear difference between REM and NREM sleep cycles at certain frequency bands. The most impressive changes occurred for the delta/beta and theta/beta correlations, which change their signs between NREM (negatively correlated) and REM (positively correlated) sleep cycles. Following an analysis of variance model with repeated measurement design, a statistically significant group effect (P=0.024) between depressives and controls was observable during NREM sleep for the delta/beta (P=0.010) and theta/beta (P=0.018) interactions.

CONCLUSION: We detected alterations of certain sleep EEG oscillations during the NREM sleep cycle, where the delta/beta as well as the theta/beta activities were higher (negatively) compared to healthy controls. Together with previous investigations on the influence of antidepressants on the microstructure of sleep EEGs, this is another hint that the NREM sleep cycle plays a major role in depression.

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