Principal component structuring of the Non-REM sleep EEG spectrum in older adults yields age-related changes in the sleep and wake drives

Age-related disturbances of the sleep-wake cycle can reflect ontogenetic changes in regulatory mechanisms underlying normal and pathological aging, but the exact nature of these changes remains unclear. The present report is the first attempt to apply principal component analysis to the electroencephalographic (EEG) spectrum to examine of whether the observed age-related changes in the objective sleep measures can be linked to the opponent sleep-promoting and wake-promoting processes. The EEG indicators of these processes--scores on the 1st and 2nd principal components of the EEG spectrum, respectively--were compared in 15 older (57-74 years) and 16 younger (20-31 years) healthy volunteers. The scores were calculated for non-REM sleep episodes which occurred during ten 75-min naps scheduled every 150 min throughout a 40-h constant routine protocol. Both, a decrease of the 1st principal component score and an increase of the 2nd principal component score were found to contribute to such most obvious age-related modification of the sleep EEG spectrum as attenuation of EEG slow-wave activity in older people. Therefore, we concluded that the normal aging process can reflect both a weakening of the sleep-promoting process and a strengthening of the wake-promoting process, respectively. Such bidirectional changes in chronoregulatory processes may explain why sleep of older people is characterized by the few profitable and a number of detrimental features (i.e., a better ability to cope with daytime sleepiness and sleep loss vs. difficulty of falling asleep, decreased total nighttime sleep, "lightened" and fragmentized sleep, unwanted early morning awakenings, etc.).

Published in:
Current Aging Science

 Record created 2014-02-24, last modified 2018-12-03

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