Effects of selective slow-wave sleep deprivation on nocturnal blood pressure dipping and daytime blood pressure regulation

Friedhelm Sayk*, Christina Teckentrup, Christoph Becker, Dennis Heutling, Peter Wellhöner, Hendrik Lehnert, Christoph Dodt

*Corresponding author for this work
50 Citations (Scopus)


Nocturnal blood pressure (BP) decline or "dipping" is an active, central, nervously governed process, which is important for BP regulation during daytime. It is, however, not known whether the sleep process itself or, more specifically, slow-wave sleep (SWS) is important for normal dipping. Therefore, in the present study, healthy subjects (6 females, 5 males) were selectively deprived of SWS by EEG-guided acoustic arousals. BP and heart rate (HR) were monitored during experimental nights and the following day. Additionally, nocturnal catecholamine excretion was determined, and morning baroreflex function was assessed by microneurographic measurements of muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and heart rate variability (HRV). Data were compared with a crossover condition of undisturbed sleep. SWS was successfully deprived leading to significantly attenuated mean arterial BP dipping during the first half (P < 0.05), but not during the rapid-eye-movement-dominated second half of total sleep; however, dipping still evolved even in the absence of SWS. No differences were found for nighttime catecholamine excretion. Moreover, daytime resting and ambulatory BP and HR were not altered, and morning MSNA and HRV did not differ significantly, indicating that baroreflex-mediated sympathoneural BP regulation was not affected by the preceding SWS deprivation. We conclude that in healthy humans the magnitude of nocturnal BP dipping is significantly affected by sleep depth. Deprivation of SWS during one night does not modulate the morning threshold and sensitivity of the vascular and cardiac baroreflex and does not alter ambulatory BP during daytime.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2010


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