Previous imaging studies have shown that cerebral metabolism is gradually reduced at the beginning of sleep. Few studies have examined the sleep state transition periods from wakefulness to sleep and sleep to wakefulness. The current study used the Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) technique to describe the intracerebral hemodynamics at the frontal pole in the circumscribed period between wakefulness and sleep. Nine healthy young adults were studied during afternoon naps. Optical probes were placed on the forehead and EEG electrodes on the scalp. At sleep onset oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) was reduced (P<0.01) and deoxygenated hemoglobin (deoxy-Hb) showed a near significant reduction (P<0.063). At sleep offset there were increases in oxy-Hb (P<0.005) and deoxy-Hb (P<0.05). In 18 of 26 transitions to sleep there was a coordinated fall in both NIRS parameters, we call the Switch Point, that lasted a mean of 3.6 s. In 32 of 36 transitions to wakefulness there was an analogous Switch Point that lasted a mean of 3.4 s. Before and after the Switch Point, changes were small and the relationship between oxy-Hb and deoxy-Hb was a combination of parallel and reciprocal fluctuations. A synchronized, parallel and short-lived change in oxy-Hb and deoxy-Hb is a discrete event in the transition period between wakefulness and sleep. The concentration of these light absorbing molecules is abruptly set to a new level at sleep–wake transitions and probably reflects the different perfusion demands of these states.
Brain Research - BRAIN RES , vol. 866, no. 1, pp. 313-325