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Chapter: Medical Physiology: States of Brain Activity-Sleep, Brain Waves, Epilepsy, Psychoses

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Slow-Wave Sleep

Most of us can understand the characteristics of deep slow-wave sleep by remembering the last time we were kept awake for more than 24 hours and then the deep sleep that occurred during the first hour after going to sleep.

Slow-Wave Sleep

Most of us can understand the characteristics of deep slow-wave sleep by remembering the last time we were kept awake for more than 24 hours and then the deep sleep that occurred during the first hour after going to sleep. This sleep is exceedingly restful and is associated with decrease in both peripheral vascular tone and many other vegetative functions of the body. For instance, there are 10 to 30 per cent decreases in blood pressure, respiratory rate, and basal metabolic rate.

        Although slow-wave sleep is frequently called “dreamless sleep,” dreams and sometimes even nightmares do occur during slow-wave sleep. The difference between the dreams that occur in slow-wave sleep and those that occur in REM sleep is that those of REM sleep are associated with more bodily muscle activity, and the dreams of slow-wave sleep usually are not remembered. That is, during slow-wave sleep, consolidation of the dreams in memory does not occur.


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