Experimentally induced arousals do not elicit periodic leg motor activity during sleep in normal subjects

Raffaele Ferri, Mauro Manconi, Debora Aricò, Naresh M. Punjabi, Marco Zucconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate whether eliciting repetitive cortical and autonomic arousals during sleep is able to induce the occurrence of periodic leg movements during sleep (PLMS). Methods: Fifteen normal subjects underwent one night of uninterrupted and two sequential nights of experimental sleep fragmentation achieved by auditory and mechanical stimuli eliciting frequent EEG arousals. Sleep was polygraphically recorded and subsequently used to determine the frequency of arousals and occurrence of leg movement (LM) activity during the first (baseline) and the second fragmentation night. Also, heart rate variability parameters were obtained to assess the autonomic changes induced by the stimulation. Results: Sleep fragmentation was associated with an increase in the arousal index, percentage of sleep stage 1, and frequency of stage shifts. In addition, there was a decrease in sleep latency and in percentage of slow-wave sleep. Moreover, a significant increase in heart rate variability and especially of its sympathetic component, was also found. In contrast, parameters of the leg movement activity showed no significant change following experimental sleep fragmentation. The lack of an increase in leg movement activity was also observed in one subject who demonstrated PLMS at baseline. Conclusions: Experimental sleep fragmentation is not associated with an increase in PLMS in normal young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Arousal
  • Autonomic activation
  • Heart rate variability
  • PLMS
  • Periodic leg movement during sleep
  • Sleep fragmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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