A quantitative evaluation of the relationships between growth hormone secretion and delta wave electroencephalographic activity during normal sleep and after enrichment in delta waves

Sleep. 1996 Dec;19(10):817-24. doi: 10.1093/sleep/19.10.817.


The existence of a relationship between growth hormone (GH) release and slow-wave sleep (SWS), often studied in the past using conventional scoring of sleep stages, remains controversial. In the present study, this relationship was reevaluated by spectral analysis of the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) and deconvolution analysis of the plasma GH concentrations during normal nocturnal sleep and after enrichment in SWS by means of ritanserin, a selective 5-HT2 receptor antagonist. Eight healthy male subjects each participated in two randomized night studies after having received either a placebo or a 5-mg dose of ritanserin. They were subjected to 8 hours of polysomnography, including spectral analysis of the sleep EEG. Plasma GH levels were measured at 10-minute intervals. The mean delta absolute power and the mean GH secretory rates were significantly higher under ritanserin than under placebo for the first 3 hours after sleep onset (+24% and +29%, respectively). Their nocturnal profiles were significantly and positively correlated in all subjects (average r = 0.710 under placebo, 0.567 under ritanserin; p < 0.0001 in both cases). GH secretory pulses were found to be coincident with delta activity peaks in both directions. The amount of GH secreted during significant GH pulses was correlated with the amount of concomitant delta wave activity (r = 0.803 under placebo, r = 0.764 under ritanserin, p < 0.0001). Similarly, the amount of delta wave activity found during delta wave peaks was correlated with the amount of GH secreted concomitantly (r = 0.715 under placebo, r = 0.723 under ritanserin: p < 0.0001). These results demonstrate a close temporal and quantitative relationship between GH secretion and delta wave activity, which may be evidence of common stimulatory mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delta Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ritanserin / administration & dosage
  • Ritanserin / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Ritanserin
  • Growth Hormone