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Extended sleep in humans in 14 hour nights (LD 10:14): relationship between REM density and spontaneous awakening.

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Clinica Psichiatrica, II Facoltà di Medicina, Università di Napoli, Italy.


The sleep patterns of 8 normal subjects living in a winter-type photoperiod (10 h light and 14 h darkness; LD 10:14) for 4 weeks were characterized by the presence of periods of spontaneous wakefulness alternating with periods of spontaneous sleep. Transitions from sleep to wakefulness occurred much more frequently out of REM sleep than out of NREM sleep (P < 0.002). REM periods that terminated in wakefulness showed shorter REM durations (P < 0.0005) and higher REM densities (P < 0.0005) than REM periods that did not terminate in wakefulness. The authors discuss these results in terms of a possible relationship between REM density and arousal level. The higher REM density preceding wakefulness and the increased number of REM periods terminating in spontaneous awakenings could reflect an enhanced level of a brain arousing process, resulting from reduced sleep pressure in the extended nights.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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