Feb 4, 1993

Sympathetic-nerve activity during sleep in normal subjects

The New England Journal of Medicine
Virend K SomersF M Abboud


The early hours of the morning after awakening are associated with an increased frequency of events such as myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. The triggering mechanisms for these events are not clear. We investigated whether autonomic changes occurring during sleep, particularly rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, contribute to the initiation of such events. We measured blood pressure, heart rate, and sympathetic-nerve activity (using microneurography, which provides direct measurements of efferent sympathetic-nerve activity related to muscle blood vessels) in eight normal subjects while they were awake and while in the five stages of sleep. The mean (+/- SE) amplitude of bursts of sympathetic-nerve activity and levels of blood pressure and heart rate declined significantly (P < 0.001), from 100 +/- 9 percent, 90 +/- 4 mm Hg, and 64 +/- 2 beats per minute, respectively, during wakefulness to 41 +/- 9 percent, 80 +/- 4 mm Hg, and 59 +/- 2 beats per minute, respectively, during stage 4 of non-REM sleep. Arousal stimuli during stage 2 sleep elicited high-amplitude deflections on the electroencephalogram (called K complexes), which were frequently associated with bursts of sympathetic-nerve activity and transient increases in b...Continue Reading

  • References25
  • Citations437


  • References25
  • Citations437

Mentioned in this Paper

Ischemic Cerebrovascular Accident
Sympathetic Nervous System
Sleep, Slow-Wave
Complex (molecular entity)
Blood Vessel
Diastolic Blood Pressure
Type of Restoration
Transcription Initiation
Myocardial Infarction

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