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Physiology of sleep

Korean Journal of Pediatrics 2007;50(8):711-717.
Published online August 15, 2007.
Physiology of sleep
Kyu Young Chae
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Pochon CHA University, Seongnam, Korea
수면의 생리
포천중문 의과대학교 소아과학교실
Kyu Young Chae, Email: barnabas@cha.ac.kr
Sleep is a vital, highly organized process regulated by complex systems of neuronal networks and neurotransmitters. Normal sleep comprises non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and REM periods that alternate through the night. Sleep usually begins in NREM and progresses through deeper NREM stages (2, 3, and 4 stages), but newborns enter REM sleep (active sleep) first before NREM (quiet sleep). A period of NREM and REM sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes, but newborn have a shorter sleep cycle (50 minutes). As children mature, sleep changes as an adult pattern: shorter sleep duration, longer sleep cycles and less daytime sleep. REM sleep is approximately 50% of total sleep in newborn and dramatically decreases over the first 2 years into adulthood (20% to 25%). An initial predominant of slow wave sleep (stage 3 and 4) that peaks in early childhood, drops off abruptly after adolescence by 40% from preteen years, and then declines over the life span. The hypothalamus is recognized as a key area of brain involved in regulation of sleep and wakefulness. The basic function of sleep largely remains elusive, but it is clear that sleep plays an important role in the regulation of CNS and body physiologic processes. Understanding of the architecture of sleep and basic mechanisms that regulate sleep and wake cycle are essential to evaluate normal or abnormal development of sleep pattern changes with age. Reduction or disruption of sleep can have a significant impact on daytime functioning and development, including learning, growth, behavior, and emotional regulation.
Key Words: Sleep, Physiology, Neurotransmitters, Ontogeny

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