Differential changes and interactions of autonomic functioning and sleep architecture before and after 50 years of age

T. B.J. Kuo, Jia Yi Li, Hsu Ko Kuo, Chang Ming Chern, C. C.H. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


We hypothesize that the time when age-related changes in autonomic functioning and in sleep structure occur are different and that autonomic functioning modulates sleep architecture differently before and after 50 years of age. Sixty-eight healthy subjects (aged 20 to 79 years old, 49 of them women) were enrolled. Correlation analysis revealed that wake after sleep onset, the absolute and relative value of stage 1 (S1; S1%), and relative value of stage 2 (S2) were positively correlated with age; however, sleep efficiency, stage 3 (S3), S3%, and rapid-eye-movement latency (REML) were negatively correlated with age. Significant degenerations of sleep during normal aging were occurred after 50 years of age; however, significant declines of autonomic activity were showed before 50 years of age. Before 50 years of age, vagal function during sleep was negatively correlated with arousal index; however, after 50 years of age, it was positively correlated with S1 and S1%. In addition, sympathetic activity during wake stage was positively related to S2% only after 50 years of age. Our results imply that the age-related changes in autonomic functioning decline promptly as individuals leave the younger part of their adult life span and that age-related changes in sleep slowly develop as individuals enter the older part of their adult life span. Furthermore, while various aspects of sleep architecture are modulated by both the sympathetic and vagal nervous systems during adult life span, the sleep quality is mainly correlated with the sympathetic division after 50 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • 50 years old
  • Age
  • Heart rate variability
  • Miniature polysomnography
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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