Background Slow wave sleep (SWS) plays an important role in neurophysiologic restoration. Experimentally testing the effect of SWS disruption previously required highly time-intensive and subjective methods. Our goal was to develop an automated and objective protocol to reduce SWS without affecting sleep architecture. New method We developed a custom Matlab™ protocol to calculate electroencephalogram spectral power every 10 s live during a polysomnogram, exclude artifact, and, if measurements met criteria for SWS, deliver increasingly louder tones through earphones. Middle-aged healthy volunteers (n = 10) each underwent 2 polysomnograms, one with the SWS disruption protocol and one with sham condition. Results The SWS disruption protocol reduced SWS compared to sham condition, as measured by spectral power in the delta (0.5–4 Hz) band, particularly in the 0.5–2 Hz range (mean 20% decrease). A compensatory increase in the proportion of total spectral power in the theta (4–8 Hz) and alpha (8–12 Hz) bands was seen, but otherwise normal sleep features were preserved. N3 sleep decreased from 20 ± 34 to 3 ± 6 min, otherwise there were no significant changes in total sleep time, sleep efficiency, or other macrostructural sleep characteristics. Comparison with existing method This novel SWS disruption protocol produces specific reductions in delta band power similar to existing methods, but has the advantage of being automated, such that SWS disruption can be performed easily in a highly standardized and operator-independent manner. Conclusion This automated SWS disruption protocol effectively reduces SWS without impacting overall sleep architecture.
- Slow wave sleep
- Spectral power