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Brain Res. 1991 Aug 23;557(1-2):217-20.

Cerebral oxygen metabolism and cerebral blood flow in man during light sleep (stage 2).

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  • 1Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


We measured cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) during light sleep (stage 2) in 8 young healthy volunteers using the Kety-Schmidt technique with 133Xe as the inert gas. Measurements were performed during wakefulness and light sleep as verified by standard polysomnography. Unlike our previous study in man showing a highly significant 25% decrease in CMRO2 during deep sleep (stage 3-4) we found a modest but statistically significant decrease of 5% in CMRO2 during stage 2 sleep. Deep and light sleep are both characterized by an almost complete lack of mental activity. They differ in respect of arousal threshold as a stronger stimulus is required to awaken a subject from deep sleep as compared to light sleep. Our results suggest that during non-rapid eye movement sleep cerebral metabolism and thereby cerebral synaptic activity is correlated to cerebral readiness rather than to mental activity.

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