Micro-arousals during nocturnal sleep

P. Halasz, O. Kundra, O. Rajna, I. Pál, M. Vargha

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In 8 young adult human subjects, EEG- and polygraphic characteristics of transient shifts towards arousal (micro-arousal, MA) have been studied during sleep under 5 different experimental conditions in 40 night sessions. Out of the 5 applied experimental situations, 2 (psychostimulant application and sensory stimulation) resulted in a shift of the balance between the systems of sleep and arousal towards an increased activity of the arousal system, while another condition (rebound following partial sleep deprivation) led to an opposite change to a rise in 'sleep pressure'. An inverse correlation has been found between the frequency of MA and the depth of sleep, a finding consistently observed in every subject and in every experimental situation. During the process of sleep, periodic changes in the dispersity of MA could be seen; the number of MA-s decreased and increased according to the descending and ascending slope of the sleep cycles. During the ascending slope of cycles there was a coupling between the occurrence of MA-s and the changes of phases. Increases in the level of activation and in sleep pressure did not influence the occurrence of MA-s. Increasing the tone of the arousal system in a chemical way, or by means of enhancing the phasic sensory input resulted in a reduction of the difference between the number of MA on the descending and ascending slopes of cycles. During the phases of sleep, the spontaneous occurrence of MA-s went parallel with the possibility to evoke MA-s by sensory stimuli. These data show that MA is a regular phenomenon of nocturnal sleep; MA manifests itself as a result of phasic functioning of the reticular arousal system and plays a role in the organization of those periods of the sleep cycle, which tend toward arousal. It is suggested that the MA-phenomenon is considered a standard measure of sleep and that it could represent an indicator of the function of the arousal system controlled by external or internal mechanisms during sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalActa physiologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 26 1980


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Cite this

Halasz, P., Kundra, O., Rajna, O., Pál, I., & Vargha, M. (1980). Micro-arousals during nocturnal sleep. Acta physiologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 54(1), 1-12.