The Impact of a 4-Hour Sleep Delay on Slow Wave Activity in Twins Discordant for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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[Note: Slow wave activity occurs in “deep sleep” and is thought to be associated with ability to consolidate new memories/learning.]

Journal: Sleep. 2007; Vol. 30, Issue 5, May 1, pp. 657-662

Armitage R, Landis C, Hoffmann R, Lentz M, Watson NF, Goldberg J, Buchwald D. Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Departments of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, Neurology, Epidemiology, and Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Objectives: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has been associated with altered amounts of slow wave sleep, which could reflect reduced delta electroencephalograph (EEG) activity and impaired sleep regulation. To evaluate this hypothesis, we examined the response to a sleep regulatory challenge in CFS.

Design: The first of 3 consecutive nights of study served as laboratory adaptation. Baseline sleep was assessed on the second night. On the third night, bedtime was delayed by 4 hours, followed by recovery sleep. Total available sleep time was held constant on all nights.

Setting: A research sleep laboratory.

Participants: 13 pairs of monozygotic twins discordant for CFS.

Interventions: Not Applicable

Measurements and results: Power spectral analysis quantified slow wave activity (SWA) in the 0.5-3.9 Hz band in successive NREM periods (stage 2, 3, or 4) on each night. To ensure comparability, analyses were restricted to the first 4 NREM periods on each night. Data were coded for NREM period and twin pair. Repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) contrasted sleep delay effects across NREM periods between twin pairs. A second ANOVA calculated the SWA in each NREM period in recovery sleep relative to baseline SWA.

The 2 groups of twins were similar on baseline SWA power.

After sleep delay, CFS twins exhibited significantly less SWA power in the first NREM period of recovery sleep and accumulated a smaller percentage of SWA in the first NREM period than their co-twins.

Conclusions: CFS is associated with a blunted slow wave activity response to sleep challenge, suggesting that the basic sleep drive and homeostatic response are impaired. [Homeostatic response is defined as the ability or tendency to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting physiological processes.]

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