Arousals in infants

Bradley T. Thach, Anna Lijowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Polygraphic studies of stimulus-induced arousals from sleep in young infants have identified a highly consistent sequence of reflex responses occurring during the 2-4 second period prior to full behavioral arousal. The initial responses in this sequence are an augmented breath (sigh) coupled with a sleep startle that is then followed by stereotyped 'thrashing' motor activity. Partial arousals, identified by early components of the sequence (a sigh or a sigh plus startle), were frequently elicited. Startles and thrashing activity were identified as having a significant external airway protective function during mild asphyxia induced by covering the infants' nasal and oral airways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S271-S273
Issue number10 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1996


  • Accidental suffocation
  • Augmented breath
  • Sigh
  • Sleep
  • Startle
  • Sudden infant death syndrome

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