Characteristics of sleep EEG power spectra in healthy infants in the first two years of life

Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Feb;122(2):236-43. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2010.06.030. Epub 2010 Jul 22.


Objective: This study characterises and describes the maturational evolution of the healthy infant sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) longitudinally from 2 weeks to 24 months of age, by means of power spectral analysis.

Methods: A prospective cohort of 34 healthy infants underwent overnight polysomnography (PSG) at 2 weeks, and at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months of age. Sleep epochs were scored as Active Sleep (AS) and Quiet Sleep (QS) at 2 weeks of age and as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM (NREM) stages from 3 months onwards. Representative epochs were used to generate the EEG power spectra, from the central C3 derivation. These were analysed visually and quantitatively in AS/REM and QS/NREM sleep in the following bandwidths: delta (0.5-4 Hz); theta (4-8 Hz); alpha (8-11 Hz); sigma (11-15 Hz) and 0.5-25 Hz.

Results: Sleep EEG (central derivation) power spectra changed significantly in the different bandwidths as the infants matured. The emergence of a peak in the sigma bandwidth in NREM N2 sleep corresponded with the development of sleep spindles. Maturational changes were also seen in NREM N3 and in theta and alpha bandwidths in both AS/REM and QS/NREM.

Conclusions: Sleep EEG power spectra characteristics in healthy infants evolve in keeping with maturation and neurodevelopmental milestones.

Significance: This study provides an atlas of healthy infant sleep EEG in the early years of life, providing a basis for association with other neurodevelopmental measures and a normative dataset on which disease may be discriminated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Polysomnography / trends
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*