Sleep bruxism is a disorder related to periodic arousals during sleep

G. M. Macaluso, P. Guerra, G. Di Giovanni, M. Boselli, L. Parrino, M. G. Terzano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


There is evidence that sleep bruxism is an arousal-related phenomenon. In non-REM sleep, transient arousals recur at 20- to 40-second intervals and are organized according to a cyclic alternating pattern. Polysomnographic recordings from six subjects (two females and four males) affected by sleep bruxism (patients) and six healthy age- and gender-matched volunteers without complaints about sleep (controls) were analyzed to: (1) compare the sleep structure of bruxers with that of non-complaining subjects; and (2) investigate the relations between bruxism episodes and transient arousals. Patients and controls showed no significant differences in conventional sleep variables, but bruxers showed a significantly higher number of the transient arousals characterized by EEG desynchronization. Bruxism episodes were equally distributed between non-REM and REM sleep, but were more frequent in stages 1 and 2 (p <0.0001) than in slow-wave sleep. The great majority of bruxism episodes detected in non-REM sleep (88%) were associated with the cyclic alternating pattern and always occurred during a transient arousal. Heart rate during the bruxism episodes (69.3±18.2) was significantly higher (p <0.0001) than that during the pre-bruxing period (58.1±15.9). Almost 80% of all bruxism episodes were associated with jerks at the anterior tibial muscles. The framework of the cyclic alternating pattern offers a unified interpretation for sleep bruxism and arousal-related phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-573
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998



  • Arousals
  • Bruxism
  • Cyclic alternating pattern
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

Cite this

Macaluso, G. M., Guerra, P., Di Giovanni, G., Boselli, M., Parrino, L., & Terzano, M. G. (1998). Sleep bruxism is a disorder related to periodic arousals during sleep. Journal of Dental Research, 77(4), 565-573.