Sleep stage-related changes in sympathetic sudomotor and vasomotor skin responses in man

R. Liguori, V. Donadio, E. Foschini, V. Di Stasi, G. Plazzi, E. Lugaresi, P. Montagna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The aim of the study was to evaluate the characteristics of the spontaneous and evoked sympathetic skin responses (SSR) during sleep and wakefulness in comparison with the skin vasomotor responses (SVR). Methods: Five healthy subjects underwent a night of videopolysomnographic recording. Spontaneous SSR were recorded via surface electrodes placed on the dorsal and ventral aspect of the hand while SVR were evaluated by means of an infrared photoelectric transducer placed on the index finger. SSR and SVR were evoked via electrical stimuli applied to the left supraorbital nerve. Results: Spontaneous SSR frequency was highest during stage 4 of NREM sleep and lowest during REM phases. On the contrary, spontaneous SVR frequency reached its lowest value during stage 4 and its highest value during stage 2 of NREM sleep, remaining at levels above waking values during REM. SSR could be elicited by stimuli inducing arousal during light sleep but it was absent during deep NREM and REM sleep. SVR could be evoked throughout NREM and REM sleep. Conclusions: Spontaneous SSR and SVR act differently during physiological modifications of vigilance. Evoked SSR is strictly dependent upon the state of vigilance, whereas evoked SVR shows no modifications during the different stages of the wake-sleep cycle. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-439
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2000


  • Sudomotor skin response
  • Vasomotor skin response
  • Wake-sleep cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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