Maturation of spontaneous arousals in healthy infants

Enza Montemitro, Patricia Franco, Sonia Scaillet, Ineko Kato, Jose Groswasser, Maria Pia Villa, Andre Kahn, Jean Pierre Sastre, René Ecochard, Gerard Thiriez, Jian Sheng Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The propensity to arouse from sleep is an integrative part of the sleep structure and can have direct implications in various clinical conditions. This study was conducted to evaluate the maturation of spontaneous arousals during the first year of life in healthy infants. Design: Nineteen infants were studied with nighttime polysomnography on 3 occasions: aged 2 to 3 months, 5 to 6 months, and 8 to 9 months. Ten infants with a median age of 3 weeks were added to the main study to assess the maturation of arousals from birth. The infants were born full-term, were healthy at the time of study, and had no history of apnea. Sleep-state and cardiorespiratory parameters were scored according to recommended criteria. Arousals were differentiated into subcortical activations or cortical arousals, according to the presence of autonomic and/or electroencephalographic changes. Frequencies of subcortical activations and cortical arousals were studied at different ages in both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Results: During sleep time, the frequency of total arousals, cortical arousals, and subcortical activations decreased with age. The maturation of the arousal events differed according to sleep states and types of arousals. With age, cortical arousals increased in REM sleep (P = 0.006) and decreased in NREM sleep (P = 0.01). Subcortical activations decreased with age in REM (P <0.001) and NREM sleep (P <0.001). Conclusions: During total sleep time, the frequency of cortical arousals and subcortical activations decreased with maturation. However, the maturation process was different between cortical arousals and subcortical activations. This finding suggests a difference in the maturational sequence of the different brain centers regulating arousals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Arousal
  • Infant
  • Maturation
  • Sleep
  • Sudden infant death syndrom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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