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Enhancing Slow Oscillations and Increasing N3 Sleep Proportion with Supervised, Non-Phase-Locked Pink Noise and Other Non-Standard Auditory Stimulation During NREM Sleep

Authors Schade MM, Mathew GM, Roberts DM, Gartenberg D, Buxton OM

Received 28 December 2019

Accepted for publication 11 May 2020

Published 9 July 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 411—429


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Sutapa Mukherjee

Margeaux M Schade,1,* Gina Marie Mathew,1,* Daniel M Roberts,2 Daniel Gartenberg,2 Orfeu M Buxton1

1Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA; 2Proactive Life, Inc., New York, NY, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Orfeu M Buxton
The Pennsylvania State University, 221 Biobehavioral Health Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Tel +1 814 867-5707
Email [email protected]

Purpose: In non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage 3 sleep (N3), phase-locked pink noise auditory stimulation can amplify slow oscillatory activity (0.5– 1 Hz). Open-loop pink noise auditory stimulation can amplify slow oscillatory and delta frequency activity (0.5– 4 Hz). We assessed the ability of pink noise and other sounds to elicit delta power, slow oscillatory power, and N3 sleep.
Participants and Methods: Participants (n = 8) underwent four consecutive inpatient nights in a within-participants design, starting with a habituation night. A registered polysomnographic technologist live-scored sleep stage and administered stimuli on randomized counterbalanced Enhancing and Disruptive nights, with a preceding Habituation night (night 1) and an intervening Sham night (night 3). A variety of non-phase-locked pink noise stimuli were used on Enhancing night during NREM; on Disruptive night, environmental sounds were used throughout sleep to induce frequent auditory-evoked arousals.
Results: Total sleep time did not differ between conditions. Percentage of N3 was higher in the Enhancing condition, and lower in the Disruptive condition, versus Sham. Standard 0.8 Hz pink noise elicited low-frequency power more effectively than other pink noise, but was not the most effective stimulus. Both pink noise on the “Enhancing” night and sounds intended to Disrupt sleep administered on the “Disruptive” night increased momentary delta and slow-wave activity (ie, during stimulation versus the immediate pre-stimulation period). Disruptive auditory stimulation degraded sleep with frequent arousals and increased next-day vigilance lapses versus Sham despite preserved sleep duration and momentary increases in delta and slow-wave activity.
Conclusion: These findings emphasize sound features of interest in ecologically valid, translational auditory intervention to increase restorative sleep. Preserving sleep continuity should be a primary consideration if auditory stimulation is used to enhance slow-wave activity.

Keywords: electroencephalographic spectral analysis, neurobehavioral performance, slow-wave sleep, sleep fragmentation, delta power, slow oscillation

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