The effects of age and gender on sleep EEG power spectral density in the middle years of life (ages 20-60 years old)

Psychophysiology. 2001 Mar;38(2):232-42.


The effects of age and gender on sleep EEG power spectral density were assessed in a group of 100 subjects aged 20 to 60 years. We propose a new statistical strategy (mixed-model using fixed-knot regression splines) to analyze quantitative EEG measures. The effect of gender varied according to frequency, but no interactions emerged between age and gender, suggesting that the aging process does not differentially influence men and women. Women had higher power density than men in delta, theta, low alpha, and high spindle frequency range. The effect of age varied according to frequency and across the night. The decrease in power with age was not restricted to slow-wave activity, but also included theta and sigma activity. With increasing age, the attenuation over the night in power density between 1.25 and 8.00 Hz diminished, and the rise in power between 12.25 and 14.00 Hz across the night decreased. Increasing age was associated with higher power in the beta range. These results suggest that increasing age may be related to an attenuation of homeostatic sleep pressure and to an increase in cortical activation during sleep.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology