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Conscious Cogn. 1998 Mar;7(1):67-84.

Eyelid movements and mental activity at sleep onset.

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Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Harvard Medical School, 74 Fenwood Road, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The nature and time course of sleep onset (hypnagogic) mentation was studied in the home environment using the Nightcap, a reliable, cost-effective, and relatively noninvasive sleep monitor. The Nightcap, linked to a personal computer, reliably identified sleep onset according to changes in perceived sleepiness and the appearance of hypnagogic dream features. Awakenings were performed by the computer after 15 s to 5 min of sleep as defined by eyelid quiescence. Awakenings from longer periods of sleep were associated with (1) an increase in reported sleepiness, (2) a decrease in the length of mentation reports, (3) a decrease in the frequency of reports of normal, wake-like thoughts, (4) an increase in the frequency of "unusual thoughts," and (5) increased frequencies of formal dream features, including visual hallucination, self-representation, fictive movement, narrative plot, and bizarreness. While sleep-onset reports can include all features of rapid eye movement (REM) dream reports, the number of such features is markedly reduced at sleep onset, suggesting that this mentation is a greatly diminished version of REM dreaming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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