Brain tissue oxygen saturation increases during the night in adolescents

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;789:113-119. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-7411-1_16.


How does the oxygen metabolism change during sleep? We aimed to measure the change in brain tissue oxygen saturation (StO2) before and after sleep with near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) using an in-house developed sensor. According to the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis [1], synaptic downscaling during sleep would result in reduced energy consumption. Thus, this reduced energy demands should be reflected in the oxygen metabolism and StO2. Thirteen nights of 7 male subjects (age 11-16 years, one subject contributed only one night, all others two) were included in the analysis. We performed NIRS measurements throughout the entire night. The NIRS sensor was placed close to electrode position Fp1 (international 10/20 system), over the left frontal cortex. Absolute StO2 and total haemoglobin (tHb) were calculated from the NIRS measurements using a self-calibrating method [2]. StO2 and tHb during the awake period prior to sleep and after awakening were compared. The subjects were instructed to lie in bed in the same position before and after sleep. Values of the two nights were averaged for each subject. Furthermore, a linear regression line was fit through the all-night StO2 recordings. We found an increase in StO2 by 4.32 ± 1.76 % (mean ± SD, paired t-test p < 0.001, n = 7) in the morning compared to evening, while tHb did not change (1.02 ± 6.81 μM p = 0.704, n = 7). Since the tHb remained at a similar level after sleep, this increase in StO2 indicates that in the morning more oxygenated blood and less deoxygenated blood was present in the brain compared to the evening. The slope of the regression line was 0.37 ± 0.13 % h(-1) leading to a similar increase of StO2 in the course of sleep. This may be interpreted as a reduced oxygen consumption or energy metabolism after sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods


  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxygen