The time structure of the cyclic alternating pattern during sleep

Raffaele Ferri, Oliviero Bruni, Silvia Miano, Giuseppe Plazzi, Karen Spruyt, David Gozal, Mario G. Terzano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objectives: To analyze the intervals between A phases of the cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) and to describe their time structure. This might represent an additional aspect to be studied in sleep pathologies that are accompanied by CAP changes. Methods: Sleep stages and CAP A phases were identified in polysomnographic night recordings of normal adults and children. Intervals between consecutive CAP A phases were measured, counted, and used to draw individual normalized distribution graphs. The intervals during light sleep (stages 1 and 2) were analyzed separately from those occurring during slow-wave sleep (SWS). Subsequently, we performed a Markovian analysis of intervals, in order to describe in detail their time structure. Setting: N/A. Participants: Twenty-four adults and 28 children. Measurements and Results: In adults, a preponderance of intervals shorter than 60 seconds during SWS was found; light sleep showed a higher number of intervals longer than 60 seconds. A less clear-cut difference between stages was found in children, who showed a shift of the peak in their SWS histogram toward intervals shorter than in adults. Interval sequences were not determined by a random process in both groups. The Markovian analysis showed statistically significant lower values of entropy and higher values of time dependency, mostly in adults during SWS. Conclusions: The different CAP components of sleep occur in a non-random ordered fashion, and their time structure is characterized by first-order relationships. Significance: We postulate that CAP components are the expression of a timely ordered process that exhibits specific sleep stage-related features and undergoes age-related modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-699
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2006


  • Cyclic alternating pattern
  • EEG
  • Entropy
  • Human
  • Markov process
  • Sleep
  • Time structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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