A hallmark of non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the decreased brain activity as measured by global reductions in cerebral blood flow, oxygen metabolism, and glucose metabolism. It is unknown whether the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal undergoes similar changes. Here we show that, in contrast to the decreases in blood flow and metabolism, the mean global BOLD signal increases with sleep depth in a regionally non-uniform manner throughout gray matter. We relate our findings to the circulatory and metabolic processes influencing the BOLD signal and conclude that because oxygen consumption decreases proportionately more than blood flow in sleep, the resulting decrease in paramagnetic deoxyhemoglobin accounts for the increase in mean global BOLD signal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2210-2222
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Bohr effect
  • Global signal
  • oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve
  • sleep


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