JOURNAL ARTICLE

Regional Patterns of Elevated Alpha and High-Frequency Electroencephalographic Activity during Nonrapid Eye Movement Sleep in Chronic Insomnia: A Pilot Study

Brady A Riedner, Michael R Goldstein, David T Plante, Meredith E Rumble, Fabio Ferrarelli, Giulio Tononi, Ruth M Benca
Sleep 2016 April 1, 39 (4): 801-12
26943465

STUDY OBJECTIVES: To examine nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep in insomnia using high-density electroencephalography (EEG).

METHODS: All-night sleep recordings with 256 channel high-density EEG were analyzed for 8 insomnia subjects (5 females) and 8 sex and age-matched controls without sleep complaints. Spectral analyses were conducted using unpaired t-tests and topographical differences between groups were assessed using statistical non-parametric mapping. Five minute segments of deep NREM sleep were further analyzed using sLORETA cortical source imaging.

RESULTS: The initial topographic analysis of all-night NREM sleep EEG revealed that insomnia subjects had more high-frequency EEG activity (> 16 Hz) compared to good sleeping controls and that the difference between groups was widespread across the scalp. In addition, the analysis also showed that there was a more circumscribed difference in theta (4-8 Hz) and alpha (8-12 Hz) power bands between groups. When deep NREM sleep (N3) was examined separately, the high-frequency difference between groups diminished, whereas the higher regional alpha activity in insomnia subjects persisted. Source imaging analysis demonstrated that sensory and sensorimotor cortical areas consistently exhibited elevated levels of alpha activity during deep NREM sleep in insomnia subjects relative to good sleeping controls.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that even during the deepest stage of sleep, sensory and sensorimotor areas in insomnia subjects may still be relatively active compared to control subjects and to the rest of the sleeping brain.

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