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Sleep. 1985;8(2):137-45.

The cyclic alternating pattern as a physiologic component of normal NREM sleep.


The cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) is a long-lasting periodic activity consisting of two alternate electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns. This variation in EEG is closely related to fluctuations in the level of arousal that characterize two different functional states in the arousal control mechanism. We studied 20 sleep records of 10 healthy subjects to see if CAP appears under physiologic conditions. During NREM sleep, CAP corresponded to a periodic succession of spontaneous phasic phenomena recurring within every stage, i.e., intermittent alpha rhythm, K-complex sequences, and reactive slow wave sequences. The following analyses were performed. Each EEG specific alternating pattern, defined as a cycle, was subdivided into two phases depending on the arousal response to stimulation. Average cycle length, average duration of each phase, and average ratio phase/cycle were calculated. CAP rate defined as (CAP time/Sleep time) was calculated for total sleep time (TST), (Cap time/TST); for NREM sleep, (CAP time/Total NREM); and for each NREM sleep stage. CAP is the EEG translation of the reorganization of the sleeping brain challenged by the modification of environmental conditions.

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