Cyclic variations in EEG during sleep and their relation to eye movements, body motility, and dreaming

  • Dement W
  • Kleitman N
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In 33 adults, discrete periods of rapid eye movement potentials were recorded without exception during each of 126 nights of undisturbed sleep. These periods were invariably concomitant with a characteristic EEG pattern, stage 1. Composite histograms revealed that the mean EEG, eye movement incidence, and body movement incidence underwent regular cyclic variations throughout the night with the peaks of eye and body movement coinciding with the lightest phase of the EEG cycles. A further analysis indicated that body movement, after rising to a peak, dropped sharply at the onset of rapid eye movements and rebounded abruptly as the eye movements ceased. Records from a large number of nights in single individuals indicated that some could maintain a very striking regularity in their sleep pattern from night to night. The stage 1 EEG at the onset of sleep was never associated with rapid eye movements and was also characterized by a lower auditory threshold than the later periods of stage 1. No dreams were recalled after awakenings during the sleep onset stage 1, only hypnagogic reveries.

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  • William Dement

  • Nathaniel Kleitman

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