Computer-Detected Patterns of Electroencephalographic Delta Activity During and After Extended Sleep

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  26 Feb 1982:
Vol. 215, Issue 4536, pp. 1131-1133
DOI: 10.1126/science.215.4536.1131


Delta (0.5 to 3 hertz) waves are the electroencephalographic hallmark of human sleep. We measured their rate of production during and following an extended night of sleep. On the extended night, we confirmed previous observations of a linear decline in delta wave production across the first four periods of non-rapid-eye-movement (non-REM) sleep. An asymptote was reached in the fifth non-REM period, perhaps signifying that sleep processes reached completion. On the day after the extended night, subjects were allowed to remain awake 3.6 hours less than normal. During the next sleep session, amplitude and number of delta waves in non-REM periods 1 and 3 were significantly reduced. These findings illustrate the value of computer analysis of electroencephalographic waveforms in sleep. Systematic measurement of the amount and distribution of these waveforms as a function of preceding waking duration should provide clues to the kinetics of the metabolic processes underlying sleep.