Effects of sleep on spinal nociceptive reflexes in humans

G. Sandrini, I. Milanov, B. Rossi, L. Murri, E. Alfonsi, A. Moglia, G. Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Controversy continues to surround the monosynaptic and polysynaptic spinal reflexes during the different stages of sleep. In animal studies both of these reflexes were found to be depressed during desynchronized sleep. In humans, the H reflex was unchanged whereas the second component of the nociceptive flexion reflex was increased. However, abolition of the H reflex and F waves during REM sleep has also been reported. The aim of this investigation was to examine the effects of different sleep stages on the polysynaptic nociceptive flexion reflex. Six healthy volunteers were studied. The Rill reflex was studied according to Willer's method (1977) during the different stages of NREM and REM sleep. The Rill reflex threshold was found to increase during stage 2 of NREM sleep. It remained higher during stages 3 and 4. During REM sleep a further increase in the reflex threshold was observed. The reflex latency was prolonged during stage 4 of NREM sleep. There was evidence of further latency prolongation during REM sleep. It was also during REM sleep that the maximum increase in the amplitude and duration of the reflex were recorded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2001


  • Nociception
  • NREM
  • REM
  • RIII reflex
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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