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Scientists' findings may lead to better understanding of how that sleep develops, matures

February 4, 2004 Bethesda, MD As any new mother knows, getting a baby to sleep at night is an art, and perhaps using snippets from Shakespeare's Hamlet may help. But the science of how babies sleep and what their processes may have in common with their adult counterparts could be a small step closer to being better understood.

Background

Sleep shows dramatic changes across early development. Quiet sleep (also known as non-rapid eye movement sleep [QS/NREMS]) increases in the course of the first year of life while active sleep or rapid eye movement sleep (AS/REMS) decreases. Slow wave sleep becomes predominant in the first part of the night beginning at about two months of age. In the last 30 years, researchers have increased their knowledge about the quantitative characteristics of the sleep EEG (electroencephalogram) during development, but how sleep regulation develops in early life was not a focus of their work. Accordingly, a new study of human infants has been conducted to document changes of the sleep EEG, with a particular focus on those facets that are markers of the sleep process in adults. The results suggest that EEG markers of sleep homeostasis appear in the first postnatal months and that sleep homeostasis goes through a period of maturation.

A New Study

The authors of the new study, entitled "Development of the Nocturnal Sleep Electroencephalogram In Human Infants," are Oskar G Jenni, Alexander A Borbly, and Peter Achermann, all of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Their findings appear in the Articles in Press section of the Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, one of 14 scientific journals published monthly by the American Physiological Society (APS) (www.the-aps.org).

Methodology

Eleven healthy full-term infants (5 boys and 6 girls) were recruite
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
4-Feb-2004


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