Spontaneous Hemodynamic Oscillations during Human Sleep and Sleep Stage Transitions Characterized with Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

Tiina Näsi, Jaakko Virtanen, Tommi Noponen, Jussi Toppila, Tapani Salmi, Risto J. Ilmoniemi

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    Understanding the interaction between the nervous system and cerebral vasculature is fundamental to forming a complete picture of the neurophysiology of sleep and its role in maintaining physiological homeostasis. However, the intrinsic hemodynamics of slow-wave sleep (SWS) are still poorly known. We carried out 30 all-night sleep measurements with combined near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and polysomnography to investigate spontaneous hemodynamic behavior in SWS compared to light (LS) and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM). In particular, we concentrated on slow oscillations (3–150 mHz) in oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin concentrations, heart rate, arterial oxygen saturation, and the pulsation amplitude of the photoplethysmographic signal. We also analyzed the behavior of these variables during sleep stage transitions. The results indicate that slow spontaneous cortical and systemic hemodynamic activity is reduced in SWS compared to LS, REM, and wakefulness. This behavior may be explained by neuronal synchronization observed in electrophysiological studies of SWS and a reduction in autonomic nervous system activity. Also, sleep stage transitions are asymmetric, so that the SWS-to-LS and LS-to-REM transitions, which are associated with an increase in the complexity of cortical electrophysiological activity, are characterized by more dramatic hemodynamic changes than the opposite transitions. Thus, it appears that while the onset of SWS and termination of REM occur only as gradual processes over time, the termination of SWS and onset of REM may be triggered more abruptly by a particular physiological event or condition. The results suggest that scalp hemodynamic changes should be considered alongside cortical hemodynamic changes in NIRS sleep studies to assess the interaction between the autonomic and central nervous systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere25415
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    JournalPloS one
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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