To explore whether depth of sleep is related to changes in autonomic control, continuous power-spectral analysis of the electroencephalogram (EEG) and heart rate variability (HRV) was performed in ten normal subjects during nocturnal sleep. Quiet sleep (QS) was associated with an increase in high-frequency power (HF) of HRV (0.15-0.4 Hz) but a decrease in low-frequency power (LF) (0.04-0.15 Hz) to HF ratio (LF/HF) compared with awakening. During QS, LF/HF was significantly and negatively correlated with delta power of EEG (0.5-4.0 Hz), whereas mean R-R interval and HF were not. We conclude that during QS, cardiac sympathetic regulation is negatively related to the depth of sleep, although vagal regulation is not. Our methodology offers a quantitative analysis to study the interaction between cerebral cortical and autonomic functions.
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