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Clin Neurophysiol. 2003 Feb;114(2):210-20.

EEG activities during elicited sleep onset REM and NREM periods reflect different mechanisms of dream generation. Electroencephalograms. Rapid eye movement.

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  • 1Centre d'Etude du Sommeil, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Québec, Canada.



To be the first to compare EEG power spectra during sleep onset REM periods (SOREMP) and sleep onset NREM periods (NREMP) in normal individuals and relate this to dream appearance processes underlying these different types of sleep periods.


Eight healthy undergraduates spent 7 consecutive nights in the sleep lab including 4 nights for SOREMP elicitation using the Sleep Interruption Technique. This enabled us to control preceding sleep processes between SOREMP and NREMP. EEG power spectra when participants did and did not report 'dreams' were compared between both types of sleep. Sleep stages, subjective measurements including dream property scores, sleepiness, mood, and tiredness after awakenings were also examined to determine their consistency with EEG findings.


Increased alpha EEG activities (11.72-13.67 Hz) observed mainly in the central area were related to the absence of SOREMP dreams and appearance of NREMP dreams. Analyses of sleep stages combining two studies (16 participants) also supported the Fast Fourier Transform findings, showing that when dreams were reported there were decreased amounts of stage 2 and increased stage REM in SOREMP and increased stage W in NREMP. SOREMP dreams were more bizarre than NREMP dreams. Participants felt more tired after SOREMP with dreams than without dreams, while the opposite was observed after NREMP episodes.


EEG power spectra patterns reflected different physiological mechanisms underlying generation of SOREMP and NREMP dreams. The same relationships were also reflected by sleep stage analyses as well as subjective measurements including dream properties and tiredness obtained after awakenings. This study not only supports the hypothesized relationships between REM mechanisms and REM dreams as well as arousal processes and NREM dreams, it also provides a new perspective to dream research due to its unique techniques to awaken participants and collect REM dreams during experimentally induced SOREMP.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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