Impairment of the production of delta sleep in anorectic adolescents

Lino Nobili, Maria G. Baglietto, Manolo Beelke, Fabrizio De Carli, Raffaella Di Comite, Isabella Fiocchi, Pierpaolo Rizzo, Edvige Veneselli, Margherita Savoini, Elisabetta Zanotto, Franco Ferrillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Total sleep time and slow-wave sleep (SWS) are frequently reported to be reduced in anorectics. A preliminary study showed that slow-wave activity (SWA, 0.5-4.5 Hz) is decreased in anorectic adolescents. The present study investigates whether this reduction is the result of the increased sleep fragmentation or is dependent on an intrinsic weakness of SWA-producing mechanisms. Design: Statistical analysis of spectral electroencephalogram data recorded during sleep from a group of anorectics and a control group. Setting: Polysomnographic data were recorded in single rooms in the hospital for 1 night following an adaptation night. Participants: 20 adolescent anorectic girls (13.9 ± 2.0 years) and 12 age-matched control subjects. Interventions: Refeeding and psychotherapy. Measurements and Results: Anorectics had an increase of wakefulness after sleep onset, a higher number of arousals, and a reduction of SWS and SWA during total sleep time. No relationship between the reduction of SWAand duration of illness was found, while a relationship between SWA decrease and the level of emaciation (body mass index) was present. The analysis limited to the first non-rapid eye movement sleep cycle did not show any difference between the 2 groups in the number of awakenings and arousals. Nevertheless, anorectics showed a reduction of SWS and SWA. Conclusions: Sleep of anorectic patients seems to be characterized by an impairment of SWA-producing mechanisms independent of the increased sleep fragmentation. This is probably related to the primary pathophysiologic characteristics of the illness but could also reflect secondary functional and anatomic alterations of the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553-1559
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2004


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Arousals
  • Delta activity
  • Depression
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Impairment of the production of delta sleep in anorectic adolescents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this