The dynamics of the sleep EEG were investigated by all-night spectral analysis of 51 sleep records. Power density was calculated for 1-Hz bins in the 0.25-25.0 Hz range. Values in non-rapid-eye-movement sleep (NREMS) were higher than in REMS in the 0.25-16.0 Hz range, and lower in the 18.25-22.0 Hz range. Power density in the 0.25-12.0 Hz range showed a declining trend over the first four NREMS episodes, which, depending on the frequency bin, could be approximated by non-linear or linear decay functions. In the frequency range of sleep spindles (12.25-15.0 Hz), power density in the 13.25-15.0 Hz band showed an increasing trend between NREMS episode 2 and NREMS episode 4. A correlation matrix of 25 1-Hz bins revealed for NREMS a negative correlation between slow-wave activity (SWA; 0.25-4.0 Hz) and activity in the spindle frequency range. This negative correlation was highest in the first NREMS episode and diminished progressively over the subsequent NREMS episodes. Within NREMS episodes, the values in the spindle frequency range showed a U-shaped time course, the trough coinciding with a high level of SWA. By contrast, in both the early and late part of the episode the two types of activity changed in the same direction. The results are consistent with recent electrophysiological studies indicating that the establishment of NREMS is associated with a progressive hyperpolarization of thalamocortical neurons during which the membrane potential exhibits oscillations first in the spindle frequency range and then in the range of SWA.