Effect of unilateral somatosensory stimulation prior to sleep on the sleep EEG in humans

J Sleep Res. 1994 Sep;3(3):159-164. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.1994.tb00123.x.


The hypothesis that local activation of brain regions during wakefulness affects the EEG recorded from these regions during sleep was tested by applying vibratory stimuli to one hand prior to sleep. Eight subjects slept in the laboratory for five consecutive nights. During a 6-h period prior to night 3, either the left or the right hand was vibrated intermittently (20 min on-8 min off), while prior to night 5 the same treatment was applied to the contralateral hand. The sleep EEG was recorded from frontal, central, parietal and occipital derivations and subjected to spectral analysis. The interhemispheric asymmetry index (IAI) was calculated for spectral power in nonREM sleep in the frequency range 0.25-25.0 Hz for 0.5-Hz or 1-Hz bins. In the first hour of sleep following right-hand stimulation, the IAI of the central derivation was increased relative to baseline, which corresponds to a shift of power towards the left hemisphere. This effect was most prominent in the delta range, was limited to the first hour of sleep and was restricted to the central derivation situated over the somatosensory cortex. No significant changes were observed following left-hand stimulation. Although the effect was small, it is consistent with the hypothesis that the activation of specific neuronal populations during wakefulness may have repercussions on their electrical activity pattern during subsequent sleep.