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Sleep. 1991 Feb;14(1):5-12.

The distribution of slow-wave sleep across the night: a comparison for infants, children, and adults.

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University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


This study describes the temporal distribution of slow-wave sleep (SWS) (defined as the visually scored stages 3 + 4) across the night for 16 infants aged between 20 weeks and 1 year, 17 children between 1 and 6 years, and 17 adults between 20 and 36 years. In all three groups the amounts of SWS peaked during the first nonrapid eye movement (NREM) episode. SWS decreased across the night for adults and children, but not for infants. In infants the amounts of SWS remained at a fairly constant level from the second cycle onward, although many cycles were observed with zero SWS. The latter was evident from the very low tendency for SWS to appear in consecutive NREM/REM cycles. Rather, SWS was observed in alternate cycles. In children this phenomenon was less prominent but still well visible, and the tendency for SWS to appear in consecutive cycles had increased. In adults SWS occurred predominantly in consecutive cycles. The results suggest that whereas REM recurrence time increases twofold from infancy to adulthood, SWS recurrence time remains of similar length in infants, children, and adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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