Fundamentals of sleep regulation: model and benchmark values for fractal and oscillatory neurodynamics

Progress in Neurobiology 234 (2024) 102589  (2024)
DOI: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2024.102589

Róbert Bódizs a, Bence Schneider a, Péter P. Ujma a, Csenge G. Horváth a, Martin Dresler b, Yevgenia Rosenblum b

Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

Radboud University Medical Centre, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Nijmegen, the Netherlands



Homeostatic, circadian and ultradian mechanisms play crucial roles in the regulation of sleep. Evidence suggests that ratios of low-to-high frequency power in the electroencephalogram (EEG) spectrum indicate the instantaneous level of sleep pressure, influenced by factors such as individual sleep-wake history, current sleep stage, age-related differences and brain topography characteristics. These effects are well captured and reflected in the spectral exponent, a composite measure of the constant low-to-high frequency ratio in the periodogram, which is scale-free and exhibits lower interindividual variability compared to slow wave activity, potentially serving as a suitable standardization and reference measure. Here we propose an index of sleep homeostasis based on the spectral exponent, reflecting the level of membrane hyperpolarization and/or network bistability in the central nervous system in humans. In addition, we advance the idea that the U-shaped overnight deceleration of oscillatory slow and fast sleep spindle frequencies marks the biological night, providing somnologists with an EEG-index of circadian sleep regulation. Evidence supporting this assertion comes from studies based on sleep replacement, forced desynchrony protocols and high-resolution analyses of sleep spindles. Finally, ultradian sleep regulatory mechanisms are indicated by the recurrent, abrupt shifts in dominant oscillatory frequencies, with spindle ranges signifying non-rapid eye movement and non-spindle oscillations – rapid eye movement phases of the sleep cycles. Reconsidering the indicators of fundamental sleep regulatory processes in the framework of the new Fractal and Oscillatory Adjustment Model (FOAM) offers an appealing opportunity to bridge the gap between the two-process model of sleep regulation and clinical somnology.



Sleep Stages; Sleep Homeostasis; Circadian Rhythm; Ultradian Rhythm; Polysomnography; Fourier Analysis; Fractional Brownian Motion; Aperiodic Activity; Neural Oscillations; Historical Notes; FOAM