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Combining behavioral and physiologic measures depicts gradual process of falling asleep, may help diagnose sleep disorders

(MGH) have developed a system to accurately track the dynamic process of falling asleep, something has not been possible with existing techniques. In their report in a recent issue of the open-access journal , the research team describes how combining key physiologic measurements with a behavioral task that does not interfere with gives a better picture of the gradual process of falling asleep. In addition to being a powerful tool for future research, the system could provide valuable insight into diagnosing and understanding .

[Tracking the Process of Falling Asleep]
Sleep study participants are asked to squeeze a small ball with their hand in time with their breathing, and the force and timing of their motions are measured by the glove and by electrodes on a forearm muscle. By combining EEG brainwave data with information from the way squeezes decrease in frequency and strength as a participant falls asleep, investigators can now track the dynamic changes in brain and body during the sleep onset process.
Credit: , PhD, MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Management


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Prerau is an instructor of Anæsthesia, and Purdon is an assistant professor of Anæsthesia at Harvard Medical School. Additional co-authors are Katie Hartnack, Gabriel Obregon-Henao and Aaron Sampson, MGH Anesthesia; Margaret Merlino, Karen Gannon and Matt Bianchi, MD, PhD, MGH Department of Neurology; and Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen, MD, Johns Hopkins University. The study was supported by National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award DP2-OD006454.

Tracking the Sleep Onset Process: An Empirical Model of Behavioral and Physiological Dynamics. Published: October 02, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003866

Massachusetts General Hospital